Last week I took a four and a half hour train journey from the south of Taiwan to the north. A few days before Mr. Gisby requested that we all help him get The Preservation of The Olive Branch into the shortlist of The People's Book Prize. I decided it would be a good time to read the book.
This was the fourth book that I've read of Brendan's and so I had no reservations about reading it. I very much enjoy Brendan's writing.
Firstly it is to be said that without the passage of time, some three decades or so, this book would have been impossible to write. So, in some ways, this book is special if not unique. Most writers, especially of my age, do not have work which they have forgotten about, work that has been dormant for such a long period of time.
The book is also set in a time that I have no memory of, The Cold War, I found the story interesting for this reason. The paranoia and the proximity people were total destruction. However, this story lives in Brendan's review of it. An honest and emotional review of a work he had long forgotten.
As the train headed north on its journey so did Brendan take me on a separate journey through his revisiting of the book.
Brendan's reaction, criticisms and praise of a piece of work which had sat in a box for so long is both honest and revealing. At intervals during the story Brendan lets the reader know what he is feeling as he reads it and as we read it together.
The four and a half hour train journey passed in an instant. I was lost in the book for that time. I will be giving The Preservation of The Olive Branch my vote not because Brendan is a friend but because this is a book that deserves my vote.
It is a book which, in part, has waited very patiently for an audience and Brendan has brought it back to life in a unique way.