Thursday, August 02, 2007
It all hinges on one kiss. Who cares?
Ok, this confirms that for me, Lionel Shriver is a one-book-wonder.
I was utterly blown away by We Need to Talk About Kevin. It made me question the notion of motherhood, of roles thrust upon individuals by society, and of an increasing apathy in youth. Read it if you can. It's harrowing but worthwhile.
I didn't approach The Post-Birthday World hoping for that same intense experience, but I was expecting something disarmingly original.
And instead of original, I felt slightly betrayed by Shriver's use of a gimmick. That old plot device of one decision resulting in two different consequences.
In a nutshell, the story is about one woman, Irina, and the decision she makes one night - whether to kiss a man (a volatile snooker player -of all things!- with an 'ideous Cockney accent) she feels strangely attracted to, or to forego the reckless kiss for a life of stability and happiness with her current partner (an intellectual, rational academic working in a UK think tank). That's about it. The 517-page trade paper back then goes on to delve in the minutiae of her parallel lives had she a) kissed snooker guy, b) not kissed snooker guy.
Erk. I return to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in grateful ecstasy.