So, like that of the first, the plot of the second volume of the First Born of Egypt series turns at last on mere masturbation. Do I detect a pattern emerging? Should I order volume 3? Too late, I have already done so.
But I am now beginning to understand why this series is generally referred to as representing a serious falling off from Alms...
The writing remains beautiful, locally, and the perspective refreshingly non-PC and uniquely unsentimental. But dear me, the material is running ever more thin. The same half dozen main characters, few of them very credible as psychologies, trot between Cambridge, their country retreats, Buttocks Hotel and the south east of Europe. The classical world and its myths are much more real for them than anything more recent. They have witty and/or cruel conversations, disperse, and then come together again in different combinations. One or other of them dies, usually in macabre or absurd circumstances. The plot hints heavily at incest, homosexuality and lesbianism, without being the least judgemental, but never being quite grown up enough to deal with any of this head on. The denoument is, twice so far, a troubled emission.
Well, I will soldier on, because whatever else it is, Raven's writing is uniquely handsome and his distaste for modern life sympathetic. But I feel less and less able to recommend these books to others, and more and more critical of myself for being hooked on them. I guess they paid Raven's bills, but by this stage he was surely, forgive me, tossing them off far too easily.