Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Non-Paris Interlude: Arcadia

Having just finished Iain Pears' new book Arcadia, I had a quick google to find a link to use when adding it to my "Books" list to the left on this blog. I opted for the publisher's listing for the book there, but  then I read Mr Pears' article "Why You Need An App To Understand My Novel." Sadly, the article makes me think a bit less of Mr Pears, in part, possibly, because Scott and I had a brief discussion about his books earlier this evening and eventually agreed that they were on the light side of things. No one could ever accuse me of being opposed to the lighter side of literature, as it happens, but I find it disturbing when light writers think they're particularly profound.

 I really liked Mr Pears' An Instance of the Fingerpost when I read it more than a decade ago (possibly close to two decades ago, on reflection). It seemed clever and intelligent and complex and all sorts of things that most books written in the last half a century just, well, aren't. I reread it sometime in the last year or two and it was still a good book, but clearly not the amazing thing I first thought it was. Some books are that way: brilliant the first time through and just good, or maybe not even that, after you've read them once and the tricks have been revealed. Arcadia was a fun read and I raced through it pretty quickly but, well, it's not all that complicated and, frankly, if you need an app--or anything else--to follow the various storylines, possibly you need to go back to fifth grade.

 Because it's really something of a Young Adult novel, complete with a plucky fifteen-year-old female heroine. (That in one storyline--oh, SPOILERS!--she gets married at that tender age, might make it a fairly special sort of young adult novel, but then, I'm not that familiar with the genre.) But the thing is, it's not hard to keep the various threads straight. There's nothing particularly complex going on in the book. There are a few "Oh, I see what you've done there . . ." moments but that's what they are: moments.

 If I had tags or used them for posts, I guess this would get a "disillusionment with an author" tag because it's just sort of painful when an author thinks he needs to explain his work, or when he suggests that it's just hard to understand what he's done. I wish I hadn't read the "Why You Need an App" article. Don't click that link and don't read what the author has written there. Cleanse your mind by looking at these sweet little soldiers and then just read Arcadia itself. It's a fine little book.
Completely unrelated photo: some soldiers from a shop window that I wish I'd bought.

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