We’ve all felt the lure of the short, sweet read, one of those slim books you can finish in a few hours, maybe over a hot cup of tea. But what about the books that may take weeks, even months, to read? The door stoppers, the heavy weights, the long reads. Think Dickens, Tolstoy, and George Eliot, think Hilary Mantel, David Foster Wallace, and Donna Tartt.
In recent months, we’ve taken on the challenge of the long read, diving into classic work The Magic Mountain by German author Thomas Mann. It’s 260,000 words, and set over the course of seven years – arguably it feels like it takes just as long to read.
And so join us as we report back on the experience, with journalist and friend of the pod, Phil Chaffee, and Toby Brothers of the London Literary Salon. What did we think of The Magic Mountain? Was it worth the effort? And how do we feel about long reads in general? What are the pleasures and perils that come with a book that takes weeks, even months, to read?
We’ll also be offering up our own recommendations for the best of the big books – if you’re going to commit to a long book, which one should it be. Listen via the media player above or here’s the Podfollow link.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanigahara
War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy
all seven volumes of Proust
Ulysses by James Joyce
The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Middlemarch by George Eliot
The Books of Jacob by Olga Tocarczuk
Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman
Pilgrimage by Dorothy Richardson
Read the Alex Ross New Yorker article Phil mentioned.
For a deeper dive into The Magic Mountain try this episode of podcast Writ Large.
Over to you
What’s a long book that you love. Let us know below.
K: Hello, and welcome to the Book Club Review. I’m Kate.
L: I’m Laura.
K: And this is the podcast about book clubs and the books that get you talking.
We’ve all felt the lure of the short, sweet read one of those slim books you can finish in a few hours, maybe even over a hot cup of tea. But what about the books that may take weeks even months to read? The door stoppers, the heavyweights, the long reads, think Dickens Tolstoy and George Eliot, Hilary Mantel David Foster Wallace, Donna Tartt.
K: In recent months, we’ve taken on the challenge of the long read diving into classic work The Magic Mountain by German author Thomas Mann. It’s almost 700 pages long, probably more depending on your addition, and set over the course of seven years. Arguably it feels like it takes just as long to read. In this episode, we report back on the experience joined by journalist and friend of the pod, Philip Chaffee, and Toby Brothers of the London Literary Salon. What do we think of The Magic Mountain? Was it worth the effort? And how do we feel about long reads in general? What are the pleasures and perils that come with a book that takes weeks, even months to read?
L: We’ll also be offering up our own recommendations for the best of the big books. If you’re going to commit to a long read, which one should it be? Keep listening to find out.
K: And so without further ado, before this turns into the longest podcast introduction, let’s get to it.
K: Toby Phil, is it’s so lovely to have you both here with us in the shed. And we’ve got Laura here on screen dialling in from Vancouver. The London Literary Salon is all about guiding readers through the classic works of literature – and listeners, do check out episode 31 after this for our extended interview with Toby – Toby, tell me, what have you been reading recently?
T: Well, let’s see. At the moment, I’m doing a whole lot of Proust, I’m now on my sixth voyage through In Search of Lost Time with a very wonderfully keen group. There’s an interesting trend during the pandemic that a lot of people are interested in reading Proust, I’m also doing a Finnegan’s Wake study. We actually made it all the way through the Wake and the group decided now they want to read it again so they can know kind of what’s going on. I’m also doing three studies of Ulysses, two for new readers, one for Ulysses rebounders as well as Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. Oh, and the whale! We’re doing Moby Dick.
K: Well, so listeners now you know why Toby is here. She’s our go-to for long books [laughs].
L: And Phil, you’re here because we love you so, but also, because I remember quite keenly debating with you at book club once, whether or not 600 pages counted as a long read. You were quite firm that 600 pages was not a long read. What is the longest book that you’ve read recently?
P: There was The Magic Mountain – but apart from that A Little Life, I just read as well, for a contemporary doorstop. Hanya Yanigahara. And I would qualify those both as long reads, I think sort of 600 plus seems a long read to me. But obviously page length is sort of arbitrary, given that the print can be dramatically different…
K: There are long reads and long reads.
L: But it’s so lovely to have you both back on the pod. Now, Kate, picked The Magic Mountain. I was not involved in this decision. Kate, what made you want to read The Magic Mountain? Why this one?
K: Well, I actually acquired my copy of The Magic Mountain when I met Toby when I went to interview her about the literary salon. And this was the book that you were going through with a group and I sat in on this session. As a result, I got a copy and I read a bit of it. And I was kind of loving it. But I put it aside. This was what, two years ago, three years ago now, and I haven’t picked it up again. So then when it came to thinking about long reads, I sort of felt like I had unfinished business with Thomas Mann. But also because there’s a new book out by Cólm Toíbín called the magician, which is a novel about Mann and his life, which I have a copy of. I’ve heard great things. I really want to read it. But I wanted to read some Mann first. So it just sort of seemed like the right time to read Thomas Mann.
L: Well, what’s it all about? The Magic Mountain was published in 1924. And it tells the story of Hans Castorp, a young German man from a well-to-do family. He was orphaned at a young age and brought up by his uncle. He’s recently finished his education, he’s soon going to be starting a career as an engineer. But first when we meet him despite his own good health, he has actually set off for a three-week stay at a Swiss sanatorium where his cousin Joachim is currently staying in the hopes of a cure for his tuberculosis.
K: The visit is only meant to be three weeks but quite quickly, doubts arise about Hans’s own health, and he too, becomes a patient at the sanatorium – and then I’ll turn to the blurb on the back of the book which puts it quite succinctly. ‘Hans falls in love and becomes intoxicated with the ideas he hears at the clinic ideas which will strain and crack apart a world on the verge of the First World War’. I did just want to read the Foreword, which is only a couple of pages, and I think sets the scene very nicely. It’s Thomas Mann’s Foreword, and he says
The story of Hans Castorp, which we would here set forth, not on his own account, for in him reader will make acquaintance with a simple-minded though pleasing young man, but for the sake of the story itself, which seems to us highly worth telling – though it must needs be borne in mind , in Hans Castorp’s behalf, that is his story, and not every story happens to everybody – this story, we say, belongs to the long ago, is already so to speak, covered with historic mould, and unquestionably to be presented in the tense best suited to a narrative out of the depth of the past.
That should be no drawback to a story, but rather the reverse. Since histories must be in the past, then the more past the better, it would seem, for them in their character as histories, and for him, the teller of them, rounding wizard of times gone by. With this story, moreover, it stands as it does today with human beings, not least among them writers of tales: it is far older than its years; its age may not be measured by length of days, nor the weight of time on its head reckoned by the rising or setting of suns. In a word, the degree of its antiquity has nowadays to do with the passage of time – in which statement the author intentionally touches upon the strange and questionable double nature of that riddling element.
But we would not wilfully obscure a plain matter. The exaggerated pastness of our narrative is due to its taking place before the epoch when a certain crisis shattered its way through life and consciousness, and left a deep chasm behind. It takes place – or, rather, deliberately to avoid the present tense, it took place, and had taken place – in the long ago, in the old days, the days of the world before the Great War, in the beginning of which so much began that has scarcely yet left off beginning. Yes, it took place before that; yet not so long before. Is not the pastness of the past the profounder, the completer, the more legendary, the more immediately before the present, it falls? More than that our story has, of its own nature, something of the legend about it now and again.
We shall tell it at length, thoroughly, in detail – for when did a narrative seem too long or too short, by reason of the actual time or space it took up? We do not fear being called meticulous, inclining as we do to the view that only the exhaustive can be truly interesting.
Not all in a minute, then will the narrator be finished with the story of our Hans. The seven days of the week will not suffice, no, nor seven months either. Best not too soon to make too plain, how much mortal time must pass over his head while he sits spun round in his spell. Heaven forbid, it should be seven years!
And now we begin.
K: ‘Only the exhaustive can be interesting.’ I remember when I first read that, and I sent that to you in a text, Phil –
L: – Kate, I just had the very disorienting experience of hearing you read prose that was completely different to the prose that I was reading, because my translation is by John E. Woods, and your translation must be by someone else entirely.
K: Oh, how interesting. I remember, when we did War and Peace with book group, and we had various different translations going? And for the first time in my life, I became genuinely fascinated by the nuances of different translations, because when you read a book like that, it really matters.
K: But we get sidetracked, I was going to ask Phil, how he got on with the exhaustive Magic Mountain?
P: Very well. I’ve had this superpower since lockdowns began, basically, when I switched to audiobooks. And I started taking very long daily walks. And I feel like I can just plough through massive books, which used to fell me. The Magic Mountain I actually tried when I was 22. I’d just graduated and I made it about one-hundred pages in and realised absolutely nothing was happening and gave it up. But being able to plough through it this time I picked up so much more and it was much more pleasurable. I just read through it or listened to it in about ten days.
K: Wow.. I can’t imagine…
L: What speed 1.5?
P: [laughing] Yes. And a very long walk.
K: I mean, I think I looked up the audio book briefly earlier. And I think it’s 37 hours. Does that sound about right?
P: Yeah, so it was not listening for 37 hours because I did listen a bit fast.
K: One of the themes that keeps recurring throughout the book is time and Mann actively draws your attention to how slowly things are proceeding at various points. And there isn’t much action. You know, Hans is up in the sanatorium up in the Swiss Alps. It’s very regimented. They do certain things at the same time every day. The only real excitement that ever happens is a meal. And then they go back and they lie on their balconies in the freezing air and
P: – six meals actually
K: – they, it’s the horizontal, isn’t it? It’s the is part of this cure that they’re all up for. And I did feel that there were moments when he was almost daring me to give up, you know, slightly goading me. What do you think, Toby? What are the strategies for getting through it? Because there’s definitely a point where I remember I had been reading fairly consistently for what felt to me like quite a long time, and I was only about 150 pages in and I really just thought, ‘wow, this is … you know, am I gonna make it through this?’ and there’s not a lot of action to keep you invested in turning the pages.
I think he does something very tricky, Mann, the writer: he gives action later in the text. So by the time you get to about two-thirds in, all of a sudden things are happening quickly. But yes, he’s testing your mettle. But I also think with these big reads, the book has to train you. It has to train you how to think differently.
And it’s interesting, I’m listening to you both talk about time. And we’re in this really strange moment, right? We’ve all become very aware that time doesn’t move in predictable ways that we have this sort of mythology of being able to measure time, upon which we base a great deal of our human enterprise. But what we’ve learned in the last couple of years is time actually behaves in very strange ways.
When you read, Mann, when you read Proust, when you read these big books, they are asking you to step into a very different worldview, from which you can look back on your own experience. And things will startle you that you’ve always known, but you didn’t know. So that’s part of what the length is about.
But you asked specifically for strategies, and I was listening to what Phil was saying, and I never thought of listening to the audio at double-speed, but why not? And in some ways, it’s about getting through the pages, getting yourself so that you’ve gotten far enough that you’re not going to turn back. So I think using the technologies that we have available, such as audiobook is brilliant. But I also think giving yourself reasonable, but slightly challenging sections to get through. So like, ‘okay, per week, how much do I need to get through to have this book read in 12 weeks?’ and then really hitting those targets. And if you don’t, speed it up a little bit, listen to the audiobook. I do think audiobooks are a great way to get more of the text in your head. I encourage people that are doing the studies with me to use the audiobook alongside of the text. But let’s be honest, time is tight. And we get into these places where we get a little squeezed. It’s not cheating.
K: Absolutely. And in some ways, it sometimes feels that you can have a much richer experience. Listening to a book, listening to someone really good really depends very much on who’s doing it. But the right person with the right book, can really come alive in a way that it’s not the same as the experience when you have when you’re reading it to yourself. So interesting, that idea about training you up. That really resonates with me. Now that idea? Because I think yes, I think that’s what happened, because you have to be sort of ready for the end, which I did not see coming, because I’m an idiot, because man told me, he told all of you just now in the introduction, pretty much what’s going to happen at the end, he also told you how long the books gonna take you to read, told you how long the passage of time in the book is gonna unfold over. And yet, despite all these clues, I was probably, you know, nine tenths of the way through it. I remember saying to my husband, I just don’t know where he’s going with it. I really didn’t see it going. So then when I got to the end, and I didn’t want to spoil it for anyone. It was a really extraordinary experience for me reading this book. And I think that ending really, yeah, just took my breath away.
I think that these huge texts, also get us to perhaps reconsider why it is that we read. Hmm. So we talk about –
K: I definitely wondered that we talked at points during this, why am I reading?
– Right? And what about the repetitive nature? And it’s so fascinating to me to think about Magic Mountain in terms of what we’ve just been through and wonder. And it’s just a question, if people would say, even though their lives had a kind of repetitive rhythm, if there wasn’t some value that they found, even in that repetitive rhythm, because what we are forced to realise is that instead of doing, we think, and to observe the mind at work is part of what these great works are asking us to do. It questions the traditional idea of plot. Since you know, the Odyssey and the Iliad, we have thought that narrative was based on events. The modernist come along and say, Ah, narrative fiction is an opportunity to examine the mind at work. And that’s not always about what happens. But that’s also how we are trained as readers to move through a text. So just for example, with Magic Mountain, one of the things that man gets us to think about is the experience of illness, and how we use illness as a space from which to study our bodies. And he does all of these really crazy interesting examinations of you know, why we take our temperatures and what we do with an X ray, and what does the X ray show, but slowly, you might get the idea or the epiphany that we examined the body’s function from the place of illness, not from health. And how strange that is.
K: yes, and Hans Castorp, who I think of as our hero, because that’s how man refers to him throughout the text. He has to come to terms with this idea festival, he’s just sort of fascinated, almost slightly, creepily fascinated, I felt with the idea of death and suffering. And he’s very youthful and vigorous. And there’s some suspicion that he’s got a high temperature and that there’s something wrong with him, but I don’t think I ever really felt he was ill in the same way that the other people in the sanatorium ill. And his observation of them is just that I found it a little creepy. I mean, one of the challenges for me with this book was that I didn’t find Hans Castile, a particularly sympathetic main character, I didn’t really like him very much.
Did you care about him?
No, I thought it was a complete Cypher. But I think that was intentional. I think he was meant to be just sort of coming in and representing a blank slate of modern man. And but yeah, like, did he have any particular qualities? I guess he would sort of Bumble a lot. And like, cut in with sort of long pointless anecdotes into conversations. I was just trying to think of a characteristic of Hans Castorp
K: it would be hard. Wouldn’t it be hard to say if someone said, Oh, hands tell me. You know, what, what’s he like? You’d be like, well…
K: Yes. And he’s open, isn’t he? And so then another challenging element of this novel, is that he is this blank canvas. And then he has these two teachers doesn’t hate that he meets up that so there’s certain Bruni, who is a rather attractive character. He’s an Italian, he doesn’t have much money. He’s very sort of threadbare. But he’s a great philosopher, and he’s a humanist. He represents this one particular school of thought. And then there’s NAPFA who is a Jesuit priest, who is up there in the mountains as well also suffering from this illness, who represents a different view, I have to say and confess perhaps that I did allow my eyes to slide over the pages. I imagine in your salons, you make people go through these with much care and attention.
I love this. Yeah, they were tough. It was tough. And I think it’s when it resonates at least a little bit with what we understand. One of the ways to see it as man is using certain brainy and NAFTA to give us a sense of the tensions that are building before World War One. And the different ways, of course, that people approach the world.
K: I was reading his afterword, which is this lovely lecture that he clearly gave on the Magic Mountain because he eventually went to America, didn’t he? And the Magic Mountain was very successful there. And there’s this lecture in my edition that he gave talking about it. And he says, If you have enjoyed this book of mine, I recommend you read it twice. And you’re like, I finished it. But like, I can see he persuades me because I can see he it’s that classic thing. Once you’re not just thinking about the plot, then you’re open to all of the different there is such a kind of interweaving tapestry of ideas, and this that I found completely entrancing, I loved it.
Can I interject?
K: Laura, I haven’t been going to you, but only because the listeners won’t know. But from the WhatsApp chat. My suspicion was that you hadn’t made it very far through How did you get on with it?
I have only made it to 150 pages. I have a small child, I don’t get to do much reading. The reading that I do happens usually after 9pm. And this is not a book to keep you awake. If I had some long hours, mid afternoon cup of tea. Yes, I could definitely see myself sinking in. But what I wanted to interject on was kind of a question to Toby really about the length. Toby, I hear you when you’re talking about the modernists, you know departing from plot and say maybe plot isn’t really what we’re looking at here at the same time, mom saying yes, you should read my book twice, to me just slightly speaks to the male ego. And I think of Wolf, Virginia Woolf, who writes perfect slivers of modernist novels that you could reread and reread again, and there will always be something more, but they’re short. They’re short, that feels quite different to man to other male modernists. What are your thoughts?
Yeah, so it’s a great point, and I’m a huge, huge Virginia Woolf fan, and I did just do a study of the years which is her big doorstopper. Right. That’s a big book. I think you’re right And let’s be clear, it’s not just the volume and the thickness of it, that should make a book valuable. I think that man and Proust and Joyce, all are trying to walk into a universe that’s different from the way that people have used language, have you story have used character? And therefore, can I say this The length is justified. So this is my theory, the length is justified, because it takes the reader time to get used to the experimentation, and men to be able to do the work of understanding what it is that I’m asked to overturn, in my comprehension of human experience. And that that does take some time. But I’m totally an apologist for these writers.
Know, but it’s, to be clear, you don’t have to persuade me I completely understand that experience. And I think what you must offer people at the London literary salon is just that chance to go a little bit deeper because of the discussion and the rigour of the reading that you’re asking of people. I had wanted to ask about length too, because I was thinking about the 19th century novelist, the length of those books of Dickens, for example, that was really because of the format, right, the serialised format. Whereas here, there’s a different something going on, isn’t there?
Well in Dickens was being paid by the word. Yeah. It’s immersion, right? It’s an immersion in a universe. And a life Proust, for example, the reason the length is we walk with the narrator, over the course of his life, so that when the writer steps in, and is making references to a memory we have that received memory as part of our experience. So it’s this totality that these writers are offering as a place of study of a deeper understanding of how we encounter each other of how we encounter the world.
K: I think this book, The Magic Mountain is such an interesting example of a long read, because it’s a long read that feels like a long read. It’s a long read that, you know, clearly he intentionally meant to feel like a long read, he wants you to feel bored, I think because you’re up there in the sanatorium with hands and nothing is happening. But you compare it to say war and peace, which is longer, significantly longer. But I always say this to people who haven’t read world peace, you fly through war and peace, it’s nothing but action and characters. It’s like a soap opera just goes from one thing to another. In the Magic Mountain. nothing much happens for a really long time. And I actually felt institutionalised in a way, I became a bit addicted to this slightly hypnotic quality of this writing and this atmosphere that he conjures up so effectively, and I didn’t want to leave. I actually think I couldn’t read it twice. I can’t imagine reading it again. I
I did struggle a bit, particularly in the NAFTA said and brainy. There’s long, long chapters. Yeah, just them arguing. But as I was reading it, I was also fascinated, and I was reading everything I could about man. And there was this amazing Alex Ross article in The New Yorker a month ago. Oh, January 20. Oh, I love him, which has some amazing details about this. One of these is that he started writing this in 1912. When his wife Katya went up to visit a similar place. sanatorium, he went and visited her just like Hans visits his cousin. And then he envisioned this as he just published the novella Death in Venice. And he envisioned this as a novella. And then he spent 12 more years writing this and in the course of that 12 years, you had World War One. And then you had the Weimar Republic. And if you think of this as a Weimar novel, when everything is falling apart, civilization has almost destroyed itself. And now you have everyone, these sort of classes demolished. You have everyone out in the street, communists and fascists, everyone going at it. And this is him working through all of that and working through this enormous upheaval. Yeah. And this civilizational almost destruction, he himself swaying back and forth politically. And it’s just so fascinating, then when you give it that context, and it felt much more
That’s hugely important man as he’s writing it goes through an extraordinary political shift, and uses the novel. This is one of the great examples of art getting to track a process. I mean, man was the ultimate German champion of nationality of kind of a brani fighting heroic German stance have from a great culture, and then changed because of world events. And that change is clocked over The course of Magic Mountain. And just thinking about the centre and brainy NAFTA. I mean, I think that we don’t say this. But we should say this that not every part of every book is going to appeal to every reader every time they read it. Right now, I think it’s important to read through, because you get this very powerful philosophical engagement. And some of it will sink in, and you’re actually learning a great deal there. And when you do the second read, it’s going to make a lot more sense. And also leaning on the resources that are out there. I mean, there’s a reason people are writing about Thomas Mann. You know, we’ve kind of lived through this slow down reduced event time.
K: Yeah, I hadn’t. It’s funny. I hadn’t made that connection. But of course, you’re right. As soon as you set out as it yes, it’s like lockdown.
You guys have made it sound as if it is quite a heavy read. And in many ways, it is a heavy read, but it is at least my translation is quite funny is that, like this, there’s a lot of dry humour. coming through,
K: I think that’s there, I see that I think dry is the right word, there’s a right quality, it’s got that classic thing, whether they’re at every so often, he draws your attention to him and his take on things. And that’s always quite funny. When that happens.
I think I would not read any big work if it didn’t have a comic element. I want to briefly read it’s just part of one paragraph. It’s not a whole paragraph. And this is an example of that ride quality for a person to be disposed to more significant deeds that go beyond what is simply required of him, even when his own times may provide no satisfactory answer to the question of why he needs either a rare, heroic personality that exists in a kind of moral isolation and immediacy, or one characterised by exceptionally robust vitality. Neither the former nor the latter was the case with Hans kostore. And so he probably was mediocre after all. So in a very honourable sense of the word, no, no. And it’s, it’s very funny. Yeah. And Nana saying, this is not the heroic character. So what’s going to be the use of our spending 864 pages with Yeah, well, I’m going to show you
K: well, that’s what I mean. I think about him sort of almost daring you to give up because I’m like, ‘yes, I’m wondering that myself Thomas!’
And I was just thinking about Ulysses, which of course, is the, you know, the doorstopper in very daunting and intimidating and hysterical and incredibly vital, sexy. Book. I hope I’ve gotten somebody to pick it up and read it. It is all one day. It’s famously one day in the life of a unremarkable advertising canvasser. And why Why does Joyce do this huge tax for one day? Well, because every day that we go through his epic, where we go in our minds, what we do, the different struggles that we encounter, the different stress, all of that would make a 900 page book of any given day of our lives. That’s my argument for big books. Although, yeah, I like Virginia Woolf.
K: Well, I feel that brings us on to the question, you know, is it worth it? Is it worth issuing? I don’t know how many books I could read. In fact, I did read actually several other books on the side while I was reading this in the early days before I really committed to it. But yeah, I mean, I probably could have got through 12 other books in the time that I read this one book. And there’s that little sense of awe, you know, having to put aside those experiences and stick with this. But was it worth it? What do you think felt? Was it worth it?
Yes, I think it was very much worth it. I encourage you to finish alar a lot of it has sat with me. I do imagine I will return to it, particularly his passages about time. They really hit home. I was speaking with my friends. This is his favourite book. And he says he’ll periodically just pick it up for the blizzard scene.
K: Oh, I was just I’m just looking now I want because he takes up skiing. Yeah. And that is relatively dynamic. And I actually was in the mountains in Switzerland. I took this with me I had a feeling it would come into its own there and it did. And yeah, this is brilliant. This bit retakes at skiing.
He rejoiced in his new resource before which all difficulties and hindrances to movement fell away. It gave him the utter solitude he craved and filled his soul with impressions of the wild in humanity, the precariousness of this region into which he had ventured. On his one hand, he might have a precipitous pine clad declivity, falling away into the mists on the other sheer rock might rise with masses of snow in monstrous Cyclopean forms, all domed and bolted, swelling or cavernous. He would hoped for a moment to quench the sound of his own movement, when a silence about him would be absolute complete, awarded sound listeners, as it were elsewhere all unknown. There was no stir of air, not so much as might even lightly sway the tribals. There was not a rustle nor the boy of a bird. It was primaeval silence to which Hans Castle Park and when he leaned us on his staff, his head on one side, his mouth open. And always it snowed, snowed without pause, endlessly, gently soundlessly falling.
And you get to a passage like that, and you’re like, ‘Oh, this is why I’m reading this book’. For me, the effect of it was very much cumulative. I felt, you have to go through every word on every page to get the payoff at the end, which is – I can’t even put into words, how I felt about it. I felt enriched by it, I felt like my mind had expanded from reading it, that I was thinking slightly differently. And I just thought, that’s why it can be worth it. For the right book, a long book will take you on this journey. And you’re going to be in this other place with this other mind, for enough time, it’s going to change you. Will at last? I don’t know. I finished it fairly recently. It’s all quite fresh, it’s still with me. But I still feel the experience of reading it. And it’s completely unique as well. Nothing else is like this. I wonder, again, I think that’s something to do with the fact that it’s so long, it allows you to develop these ideas and this theme and to really take you somewhere in a way that a shorter book perhaps just couldn’t do.