What makes a good book? In the case of “The Unfortunates”, written by Bryan Stanley Johnson, it’s probably the fact that it isn’t a book, but a disconnected collection of memories in a box. This also makes it very difficult to explain.
The physical form of the experience is some sort of box with 27 clumps of pages inside. You get to know which goes first and which goes last, and then you read the other 25 in any order you like. It sounds very experimental, in fact it isn’t. Suppose you want to let another person see your mind, as it is, without filters. This would be the case. No stream of consciousness, just consciousness itself on paper. Take that, James Joyce!
The contents are another story. As a matter of fact, I didn’t know you could write “french letters” in a book as late as 1969 and be understood by readers. The pain and death are universals though, so there’s no need to explain what’s all the book about. A passing smile here and there, and brief descriptions of mundane things.
Conveying what it is that makes it special would be special in itself.
More likely I don’t want to write about it anymore.
Just read it already.