on 26 October 2005
Andrew Cowan seems to effortlessly guide you around a coming of age story. He creates so beautifully, achingly, in the lines and between the lines. As much can be gleaned by what he doesn't say in this novel. His transparent writing allows the reader to be the characters, to connect with the story at a deeper level. He strips away writerly conceits and leaves you gasping at beauty. It will melt you after it slaps you across the face and sticks your nose in stench. The characters are intimate and tender. A masterful achievement. You can read this novel to understand the power of 'transparent writing'. I ordered his latest book, 'What I know', the day after finishing this.
on 4 July 2009
This is a short book, and not much actually happens. There is an abundance of descriptions which makes the novel very atmospheric and sensual. However there is a lot of unnecessary detail. Not just the telling detail is there but detail and even scenes that don't need to be there. Do we need to be told about him spilling milk on the counter and wiping it up, or do we need to have a description of the ceiling? Also the whole scene of trying to find Ted could probably be cut, or maybe just shortened at least.
The style is also strange. He deletes most of his conjunctions and prepositions and substitutes them with a comma. In a way it makes the narrative more sensual, creating a type of variation of the stream of conscious technique, but not so pretentious. To me, or at first, it made the narrative stutter, because I wanted to add the words to it. However I think you just get used to it, and for me, towards the end, preferred it. But maybe not.
There are a lot of issues discussed in the book, usually done quite subtly and only done between the lines. The Contrast of the old and new, with the former decaying and the two main characters unable to stop it; racism; multi ethnic relationships; problematic family; adolescent love and uncertainty; precariousness of the future; with an ominous atmosphere that creeps through out the book is all there. I almost gave this book 4 stars, but I just don't think there is enough significant events in it to give it that. But whether 3 or 4 stars, there is a lot you can get out of this book. This is the author's first book and there is huge potential here. I would definitely be interested in reading more of Andrew Cowan's work.
on 3 November 2007
This is not the book for somebody who likes a lot of drama, action and surprise!!
It is a well written book, and it reads nicely, but don't choose it if you don't want to fall asleep!
I gave it 3 stars because it's written well, but I didn't enjoy the book at all.