Hogarth, May 14, 2013
Originally Read: I read Noughties at the end of 2012, near the time that it was out in hard cover. I read it in e-book format.
New Cover or Old? I really like the new cover compared to the one I saw when I was reading the book. It looks a lot like several of the scenes described in the novel, which take place over a night of partying. It’s appropriate for having read the novel, but I don’t think I would pick it up based on the cover alone.
What I Thought Then: Only years of reading and watching British novels and television could have prepared me to understand Noughties as much as I did, and it still took care in reading to not miss anything. It’s definitely an immersion in British idioms and slang. It’s also the quintessential coming of age story, taking place in bars, pubs, and clubs during Eliot Lamb’s last day at Oxford college where flashbacks tell us about his history, college days, and the mysterious relationship his had with a girl from back home, Lucy.
I think I enjoyed Noughties for many of the reasons I’ve seen it widely criticized. It’s pretentious, the characters are self absorbed and unlikable (mainly Eliot), it takes itself much too seriously, etc. I can see all of that, but it also made sense to me when squared with the fact that the main character is a young man with class issues and overcompensates with his new friends at school and also his friends back home. He is a fish out of water trying to make the most of being accepted by people he admires but whom he feels he need to prove himself to, as well. He also thinks he’s too smart, lacks insight, is a horny young male and basically messes up, as you do when you’re 20. It was a confusing read at times, but I generally enjoyed examining this perspective.
Now, On Further Reflection: I enjoyed this one, but it’s also a book that lends itself to being recommended to readers with specific tastes. If I had time to actually re-read things, I would love to see if I would like it as much a second time around.
Book Club Pick? Noughties is one of those polarizing books that would work well in a book club provided that everyone in the club reads it. There are characters and situations to be dissected, and you will definitely love or hate some of them. Interesting observations are made about class, relationships, and fitting in, plus you can always compare your college experience to that of Eliot and his friends.