OK, so I’m not exactly up to date with this book. It came out two years ago, and I didn’t know anything about it until I stumbled on it in the library a couple weeks ago. A new library, at that. One with info signs in Russian as well as English and Spanish. And a blonde librarian with high cheekbones and an accent that made me want to tango.
Resisting the urge to find out anything at all about Stephen Hall, I am confining myself to the delight I experienced reading his book. Reading should be fun, books should make us fall in love with reading all over again, make us feel young of brain, and clever. Check, check, checkcheck. Textured, thoughtful, grown-up fun.
It’s not the characters so much–postmodern, anxious, alienated, and pretty clueless about themselves (Ian, the cat, excepted)–or the situation: loss of memory, quest for self (though I am a bit of a sucker, especialy where language is concerned, the plumbless depths of words, etc.)–I’d have to say it’s the high seas adventure of it. No literal seas, although that could be argued. It’s more of a meme.
And when one feels lost, Hall will throw you a rope and haul you back in the boat. He’ll even paddle around waiting for you to catch up. I like feeling a little lost here and there, unless it’s Paul Auster, in which case I break out in hives and return the book to the library.
“Who Are You Really, And What Were You Before?” With a chapter title like that, you can just sit back and drift for a while before reading the chapter. Words in the shape of a shark, swimming toward you across successive pages, then opening its mouth–scaryfunny. There are so many facets tempting one to natter on and on. I may have to read it again, just to refresh the nattering.