on 12 March 2009
BREATH by Michael Symmons Roberts. A very well written novel about 2 parts of a country that has been on war some time ago. The lung of a young man who died in a road accident must be taken from the south to the north by plane for a transplant. The recipient is an old man who was very cruel during the war - and the dead young man is the son of a person from the opposite political spectrum. As the lung must get to the north very fast the plane has to go on a night flight. This is told down to the smallest details - it left me in fact kind of "breathless". The people involved, their destinies, thoughts, emotions, guilt - everything intervoven in this book. I recommend it very much and apologize that I am not a sophisticated person and can't write a very intelligent review.
on 20 February 2010
In the aftermath of civil war a patient lies dying in a Northern Hospital whilst a replacement lung is flown up from a Southern Hospital by a pilot prone to hearing voices (and nothing unusual about that if UK researchers at Manchester University are to be believed). Michael Symmons Roberts is better known as a prize winning poet but decided that the themes of his story were too ambitious for poetic form. The main problem with the story is that the characters are universally loathsome and flawed. The story takes place on St Lucy's day (December 13th) a festival of light. However the joyous nature of the festival is not sufficiently established to offset the dark musings of the main protagonists. As if Pilots hearing voices was not enough, we have a further character who sees ghosts (or perhaps he just drinks too much coffee?). As for the moral of the tale, well that's pretty elusive as well. You might find it helpful to read John Donne's "A Nocturnal on St.Lucy's Day" as a preparation for the bleak absence of humanity.