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Saturday, April 17, 2004

GB84 

Kevin reads the book. Kevin turns the pages. He reads the book. Pages, all the same. Unreadable. Kevin closes his eyes, closes the book. Kevin puts the book down. He leaves the room.

I really wanted to like this book. I've been impressed by many of the comments made by David Peace in the press, and I'd heard good things about him. Sarah and Ray both suggested I try Nineteen Seventy-Four but my local indie bookseller didn't have it in stock so I bought GB84 instead. What a mistake.

So, the negative first. As in my pastiche above, I was disappointed to find such a straight talker writing in such a mannered style - it read a little like a very bad translation. I find it hard to believe that this is his natural voice, and can see no advantage in Peace adopting it. Worse, both the writing style and the characters are so unengaging that it's hard to care about anyone or anything within it. And the biggest sin of all, one that I'll never forgive in a book, is the author's willful disregard for the telling of the story. There's a terrible arrogance in any writer who believes he has no need to captivate his reader, that the poor soul will be happy to trudge on through 462 pages in the hope of finding enlightenment at the end. The centrality - and all too often, the neglect - of the art of storytelling is something I feel so strongly about, I'll probably dedicate a post to it tomorrow.

Now, in Peace's defense. First, I haven't finished the book - I've temporarily given up after a hundred pages (though, usually, I would have given up after ten) - so some people might argue that I haven't given it a decent shot!?!? In addition, my writing style is very different to Peace's, so it's possible that I'm just wired wrong to appreciate a book like this. It's equally possible that I'm simply a dullard, and if you've read GB84 and enjoyed it, please feel free to tell me so in the facility provided. I will also check out his other work because I'm given to understand that this book is something of a departure. He also clearly has a readership, so maybe he's doing something right and I just can't see it - I hope so.

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