Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Yet to realise I had been stood up, I recently found myself in the adult fiction department of an unfamiliar library with a very disgruntled toddler who was somewhat traumatised by the music and rhyme going on in the children's department. As my eyes sought escape I thought I had found it in the covers of Hari Kunzru's The Impressionist and Transmission.
The Impressionist was Kunzru's debut. I had been meaning to read his fiction for a long time - always on the list but never quite pressing enough to lure me to buy it - thank you library, you saved me from a fate worse than waste. I began reading deliciously ignorant as a ripe virgin only to feel like snatching back my cherry on page 24. Yes, shock horror, I got that far! Having avoided any reviews and deliberately skipping the blurb I threw myself blindly over the precipice that is to absorb oneself in fiction and cried "I believe"....but this book is no smooth Disney production and the fates always know when you're lying and I landed in a pile of plot. I did read on substantially further - only because I wanted to put off starting the second book as long as possible - but my impatience got the better of me. I played guess the plot then read the blurb on the inside cover and, guess what, I won. Erm, what? Well, nothing. Oh, but that's not true, I won some time back! Always an upside!
What I felt was that there was a very good book in there which had been completely ruined for the sake of sensationalism and cramming in as much plot as possible. It began slowly - very enjoyably - well written and thoughtful and, most importantly, it made me think. However, it was as if the whole novel changed tact at the very early first sex scene and then it was little more than continuous tumbling from there on in. It was the same feeling I got when I read The Kite Runner which was so moving until it turned into an anti-Taliban action yarn and destroyed, for me, every subtle strength it had carefully built up to. What I did think, though, was what a ripping film it would make - ha! But it did make me see where my own fiction may be wandering astray and it's given me lots to get my teeth into this weekend.
Alas, undeterred (that bit's not true) I wanged it aside (neither is that bit - it is a library book - I placed it carefully and considerately back in the fabric library bought "save the planet" bag...that's also a lie...I put it in a carrier bag by the front door, lest I should forget to take it back! Far, far away from my bookshelves to prevent anyone mistaking it for one of my chosen ones!) and so began the reading of Transmission.
Which I'll tell you all about next time!