READING UPDATE: RESOLUTION, THE TRAVELER'S GIFT AND A MAN WHO KNEW EVERYTHING
Western genre doesn't particularly appeal to me, but that's not the main issue I had with this book. My main issue is the predictable, slow, uninteresting, and cliched plot. Moreover, the characters aren't well developed and the writing leaves much to be desired. I didn't mind the clipped macho dialogue as such but these dialogues take too much space. The first few dialogues I read were alright, I could imagine the dramatic silences and start to visualize the characters. However, after page and page of the same clipped dialogue sentences, it gets incredibly repetitive not to mention it doesn't add any information.
I wouldn't particularly mind there aren't any memorable female characters in this novel if there were ANY developed characters. I'm not an angry feminist who only reads books with female characters. I've read a lot of books without any notable female characters and liked them (for example works of Joseph Conrad, R.A. Heinlein and so on) well enough. As long as there is still something in it for me, it's fine but I didn't find anything for me in this novel, so the fact that there were no strong female characters is just another minus.
I'm neither a politically correct reader nor one particularly sensitive to foul language. I don't think we should censor books heavily because that ruins the point of literature. However, the foul language bothered me here because the swear words didn't really add anything to this novel and they sounded like empty macho talk. I dislike when writers use foul language without a reason. There were some other things that bugged me, for example the way Indians were described. That phrase about herding Indians into reservation made me a little sick in my stomach. The Indians were only mentioned briefly, but it was unpleasant to read. I know such were the views of that time, but as a writer you can add some perspective. I didn't feel like this writer cared to elaborate or add some cultural context. He could have at least put a footnote or something.
ANOTHER SPOILER ALERT (I reveal much of the plot in the next paragraph):
The plot is pretty basic and if it wasn't painfully slow, it wouldn't be so bad. From the start it is obvious that Everett Hitch is a typical macho western protagonist. This 'gun for hire' character settles in a new town where he shows a soft side to him by saving prostitutes from being raped and not killing people unless he is paid to (or if he wants to save the prostitutes from being raped). Nothing much happens until his buddy Virgil Cole arrives and then nothing much happens (except some building tension and saving the above mentioned abused woman) until the final confrontation that is about half a page long (plus a few pages of build up to it). The end.
A MAN WHO KNEW EVERYTHING, A NOVEL BY IGOR SAKHNOVSKY 4/5
The Man Who Knew Everything is an interesting and dynamic contemporary novel, perhaps best described as a mixture of different genres. In this novel, you’ll find elements of fiction mixed with existential questions, all packaged in a spy thriller with plenty of dark and ironic humor. I wouldn’t say this is a spy novel or a thriller as such. Indeed at times it seems like a parody of a spy novel. The novel is quite self-ironic. It's hard for me to actually say what kind of book it is, but that's exactly what I like about it, its strangeness and originality. This is the first time I read this contemporary Russian author and I must say- I was impressed.
I have originally written this book review in Croatian because I read this in a Croatian translation. I'm not sure is the novel translated in English, but there is a film version you can watch. I haven't watch the film myself, but reading the reviews it seems a faithful adaptation of the book. However, I wonder if the any film could truly capture the dark humour of this book. Anyhow, I will translate a part of my original book review for the novel and if you want to read it all, you can use the translator for a full translation (I will leave the full book review bellow). I actually bought this book and I'm glad I did. I don’t buy books often because I have a lot of them, but I couldn’t resist buying this one. My Russian language skills are not enviable, so when I saw the Croatian edition of this contemporary writer that I had not read before, I immediately put it in the basket. I will certainly pass this novel on to someone, and I will look for other books by this author. If you don’t mind a bit of black humor and a mix of genres, I think you’ll enjoy reading because the novel itself is quite captivating and easy to read.
FULL REVIEW IN CROATIAN BELLOW: ČOVJEK KOJI JE ZNAO SVE 4/5