An avid reader calls it as she sees it on books, publishing and the written word in general.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

How Cary Grant restored my faith in humanity

I just finished reading Truth by Peter Temple. It’s won a swag of awards and acclaim. Everyone’s buzzing that literary awards such as the Miles Franklin have been won by a crime novel. My mother and great-aunt both loved it and recommended it to me.

I didn’t like it.

It sounds heretical just to say it, but I’ve always been an emperor-has-no-clothes kind of person. Not that I’m saying it’s a bad novel; this is just my subjective view. I had two main issues with it. The main one was that there were that many characters, I simply lost track of who was who. It’s not a good thing for the writer when he reveals “whodunit” and the reader thinks “Now who was that person again? What was their connection? I’d better flick back and find out because this is making no sense to me whatsoever.” Personally, I think he should have taken a tip from Janet Fitch and collapsed a few characters in the police hierarchy together. I loved the character of the father though – anyone who’s been to the country in Australia will have met a tough old bugger like Bob. Still, I think some of the other characters risked becoming those “faceless men” that Tony Abbott is always banging on about (although come to think of it, perhaps that was the point).

The second issue I had was that it was so damn depressing. His thesis seems to be that everyone is corrupt to some degree, whether it’s in their professional or family life. Possibly true, but so bleak. Luckily, my local cinema had a Cary Grant double on last night with Holiday and His Girl Friday and I went along and laughed my head off and enjoyed myself thoroughly. I know there’s a certain cool factor with bleak and depressing novels but I’ll take a book that leaves me feeling good at the end every time. Thank God for Cary!

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