“It’s a travesty” – Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen

bonjcSo. Time to begin this review with a confession. After over four years of reviewing for Bookmunch, and with so many reviews under my belt that I can’t even attempt to count them, this is the first time I have ever submitted without finishing the book. I know. It’s a travesty. I can feel the guilt dribbling out of my fingers as I type and I am already awaiting the comments telling me about the many reveals and twists and turns I missed, the injustice of coming to a conclusion on a book before making it all the way to the final page.

But tell me this. If, after reading 274 pages of a 580 page piece of literature, somebody has found nothing to convince them to read on any further, is it really unfair for them to give an opinion on the book? I’m not sure. And if, after 274 pages, a reader feels they are reading something that tries so desperately hard to be clever that it forgets to be readable and interesting, is it harsh of them to say that the book’s no good? If, after tens of thousands of words, they tire of not finding things funny when the author clearly thinks that everybody should find him funnier than Louis CK, when he actually points out the bits you should laugh at just in case you aren’t already laughing, is it not fair enough if they try and warn other readers off this frustrating experience?

I’m going to leave that up to you. What I will say for sure, though, is that Joshua Cohen’s muddled story of an author called Joshua Cohen who has the same name as a billionaire tech expert called Joshua Cohen left me cold. I don’t think another 306 pages would have warmed me up very much.

Any Cop?I doubt you need me to tell you how I’d answer that question. For a while I felt like maybe I just wasn’t clever enough for Book of Numbers, or that maybe I’d have more chance of enjoying it if I had a degree in Computer Science as well as a degree in English Literature. Then I decided that this is perhaps just how the author wants you to feel, that he is more concerned with appearing uber-intelligent than actually entertaining people. This feels like the kind of book that people will people will pretend to like when they’re trying to make people think they’re more intelligent than they really are. But then again, who knows? Maybe I’m just stupid.


Fran Slater


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