Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A review of Taking Comfort.

It's by Ian Hocking, for Spike Magazine.

Here are some of my favourite bits:

"The prose has an urgency that persists until the close. Morris is adept at repetition, and manages to harness the mesmeric quality of twisted, rehashed sounds without tiring the reader. He keeps us bound to his characters, even as he skips from one to the next. We are rapidly initiated to the worldview of a given character: the woman who sits beneath the lone tree in the foyer of the Diamond Life building, and who loves her compact; a police officer, who takes pride in his flak jacket; and the protagonist Rob, who finds security in the heft of the Di Beradino classic briefcase, and perhaps some comfort in the trophies he pilfers from those visited by trauma. In short, Morris can write, and write well."

"Is Macmillan New Writing the future, now? The shifting sands of publishing are capricious enough for the nay-sayers or the optimists to win. Any vaguely new method of publication (though its novelty is more apparent for the struggling writer than the reader) needs a dose of luck, and if Taking Comfort by Roger Morris is representative of the range, MNW have succeeded in loading the dice."

He does take me to task over a couple of things, which he describes as the book's 'shortcomings'. I'm not going to get into justifying my decisions at length here. But something that I wrote in the notes I provided for reading groups is relevant to one of Ian's criticisms, I feel:

...there is no single objective reality in the book. Everything is subjective. The decision to leave out the quotation marks seems to fit with this somehow. In places, the reader may not be sure what has actually been said and what is just being thought. Decisions like this do have an impact on the story. As Rob’s behaviour becomes increasingly bizarre, the reader is perhaps left wondering how much of what is presented is really happening. The plot has been described as odd but believable. It’s that tightrope that I set out to walk.

Read the full review here.


Tribeless said...

Overall, a good review Roger. I really am growing fascinated to read the novel.


roger said...

Cheers, Mark. Ian also reviewed Tom's book, Brother What Strange Place Is This, for Spike Magazine.

Tribeless said...

Oh, I'll have to go find Tom's review. Regarding your own, though, (I printed and read it over morning tea), the other positive is the proof it gives of the obvious marketing effort that is going behind the MNW. Certainly disproving the naysayers anyway.