I rarely start reading a novel without finishing it. Even if something isn’t all that great I will usually keep going. However, after the first 20 pages of Vilnius Poker by Ričardas Gavelis (trans. Elizabeth Novickas, 2009), I put it down and haven’t looked back for the past two days.
It is a shame because I appreciate the work Open Letter is doing with literature in translation (and this is one of their early books that came out with gorgeously illustrated hardbound covers), but I came to a realization while slogging my way through what I finished that I really don’t have any tolerance left for this kind of narrator. Angry and paranoid, incredibly misogynist. It could be that the narrator has some traumatic past that explains his attitude while not forgiving it, or perhaps he is ironically undercut as the story goes on. I just don’t care. No more.
The good news is that I am already nearly done with another Open Letter title, and it is every bit as beautiful as this is vile. But that will be for next time!