Some books should come with a health warning. I'm talking about those with the capacity to colour the reader's experience for the duration of the read as if leaking into his or her world. One such is William Golding's Pincher Martin. I can't think of a more intense evocation of human suffering. Physical pain and mental torture for page after page if you allow yourself to enter the physical and mental world of the flawed protagonist, and it's unerringly real and honest.
Reading it again I kept thinking of the miserably human Bill Golding of John Carey's biography as opposed to the rather idealised writer I suppose I had in mind when I first read the novel as a teenager. It seemed twice as painful on this reading as it did then. I think Golding was punishing himself when writing it. Fortunately it's short enough to read in a day and a half - and that's all I could take of it.
I really need to look at something a bit more cheerful.