Thursday, April 12, 2012
Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad
Hands up who has a list of "Books That Will One Day Cut Through New And Shiny Distractions And Finally Get Read"? I hear that in some corners of the interwebs this list is referred to as a TBR (To Be Read) pile. I had been meaning to read An Instance Of The Fingerpost by Iain Pears for a while, and I am afraid to say that I was disappointed. It was so overly detailed and whiney that I had to give up well before halfway. I was persuaded to try Stone's Fall (also by Pears) instead and was thankfully hooked from page two. Admittedly, there are several passages where Pears indulges his desire for unnecessary detail but not nearly as many as can be found in the first 100 pages of An Instance.... Pears' propensity for detail (most of which is pertinent to the complex, multi-layered plot) is the reason I switched to something different for a spell. I could see myself becoming frustrated with a book I should have been enjoying so decided to put it on hold. I did finish it later and quite enjoyed it. It's not in my top five, but it's something I could happily recommend to others.
The perfect antidote (aka A New And Shiny Distraction) to Pears bog of detail came along in the form of The Innocents, Francesca Segal's debut novel which is due to be published in Australia this June. Segal is an experienced journalist and her writing style is much lighter than Pears, but her content far more emotionally real. It reminded me how fiction can be an excellent tool for examining truths in the world. I found myself reflecting on questions and situations from my own life, and seeing some things in a new light. The characters felt like real people and I believed their dilemmas and wanted to know how their lives would unfold. What was especially refreshing was that there was not a whiff of the turgid "I have never written fiction before and if I just pepper my sentences with words like 'delicious' and 'lovely' nobody will notice" stench that can drive me to tears of boredom in a first novel. It was well crafted, it flowed, it had depth. Hooray!