Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Loitering With Intent
Fleur’s affairs although they have repercussions also happen without much comment or judgement, I think the inference is that it is for those without sin to cast the first stone; those of us in glass houses can lay off and mind our own business. It’s something Spark and Alice Ellis Thomas have in common, as is their Catholicism, as it’s an attitude I enjoy in both writers it makes me inclined to look out for more catholic women writers to test a half formed theory (but that’s a little detour).
Back to ‘Loitering With Intent’ – it’s a fascinating book which I really couldn’t put down (normally early working hours will make me stop reading but I couldn’t sleep until I finished this so the last day of work before Christmas was far harder than it should have been). Fleur is writing a book, and looking for a job whilst she does it. A job turns up with the Autobiographical Association which she takes only to discover that its members already exist in her novel. As the story unfolds it becomes more sinister, life and art (within art) merge closer and closer; Fleur who controls the art struggles to control life as her novel is appropriated to a point that makes it seemingly impossible to get back. What will happen? How will it resolve? This is what kept me reading long into the night, not least because Spark reveals the ending long before the end, what you have to read all the way through for is to find how she gets you there.
Part of the tension – and it really does get tense, almost frightening, is in seeing a woman who’s basically very self possessed, have control over her own creation taken away from her so easily, and so clearly against her will by a man who however charismatic and convincing he is to the other characters is clearly shown to us as a dangerous fraud by Fleur. Part of me was as angry as Fleur about these turns in events, and this is entirely due to Spark’s ability to draw the reader round in circles until it’s hard to tell what’s meant to be real and what isn’t. It’s a wonderfully sharp, clever but above all grippingly entertaining book. My biggest concern on finishing it was to find something as good to follow up with...Which I think I’ve done, but more of that another day.