To The Wedding Critical Review
“To the Wedding” by John Berger is a wonderfully enigmatic tale narrated from the point of view of a sightless Greek street urchin-come-trader who manages to take in all that is said around him. Through this medium we learn about the wedding story of the main protagonists Gino and Ninon. It’s a simply styled novel that brings home wonderfully the intricacies of a wedding day that somehow appears beautiful hides a certain malaise that is difficult to put your finger on.
It’s definitely an enjoyable work of fiction, especially as it seems to have an out-of-time ethereal quality, mainly due to the author’s fantastic use of a blind narrator. Although Berger’s writing style is reminiscent of several authors – Ondaatje springs to mind – it still manages to create that sheen of newness. This is something slightly unique. Seeing through the eyes of a blind man creates small snippets of insight that can be taken as incredibly touching and yet can quickly turn menacing within the same breath – adding a whole, darkly subtle medium to the wedding proceedings that the novel revolves around.
Although I appear to be singing Berger’s praise, his works are never all roses to me. Some parts of this shortish novel become boorish and lame. It’s as though the author was simply not paying attention at that part of the narrative and lost interest. If this is some plot device introduced to produce ennui in the reader in order to try to shock later, it doesn’t work with me. The shock elements of the novel are relatively lame, even if they do deal with some controversial subject matter along the way.
All in all, this could be described as poetic fiction. It’s not quite prose, not quite lyrical in its presentation. The device of using a blind narrator introduces incredibly colourful scenes and characters exactly where you might not expect them. The juxtaposition device is well used. To some, the novel may feel jumpy and disjointed, but for those looking for an original style, this has one gives in leaps and bounds.
Graeme Short is a guest reviewer for Get Married Tips