Wednesday 19 March 2008

Michael Frayn

Here is my Michael Frayn collection.
I admit that it is not large
but it is the beginning, middle and end of my obsession.

I picked up Spies from the table in the bookshop
where they display books on special offer.
Spies won the Whitbread award for Fiction in the year
that Michael Frayn's wife, Claire Tomalin,
won the Whitbread award for Biography and beat him to the overall prize.

I understood completely the torment of the mother,
the acrid smell of privet, the whispers and the retained guilt.
It is a haunting evocation of the transition from childhood
and I wanted to read more.

So I went back to the bookshop and bought
Towards the End of the Morning
which describes the now-vanished world of Fleet Street.
The smell of newsprint leaks out from the pages
and the energy of the writing makes me gasp.
It makes me laugh out loud and I love the title.

What can I say about Headlong?
It was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.
I am therefore a failure because I CANNOT read it to the end.
I start off with good intentions and enjoy the characterisation.
But then I know where the plot is heading.
I have the feeling that I am running
towards the edge of a cliff with the main character.
The second time I tried to read it I was braver
and got even closer to the terrible drop
- practically teetering on the edge -
Then I slammed the book shut
and let the plot and all the characters fall over by themselves.

I should check the bookshop for more books by Michael Frayn.
I admire his craftmanship.
They say he is a modern day Chekhov.
But I am still feeling guilty about Headlong.


blackbird said...

I can't watch movies with plots like I would have to stay far away from Headlong.
Yes, you've done him wrong.
No more Michael Frayn for you.

Joanne said...

I thought Spies was a perfect novel - not a word spare or a word out of place. I might have to add 'Towards the end..' to my amazon basket now...

RW said...

I will check it out - Spies.

dottycookie said...

I didn't recognise his name until I went to wikipedia and saw that he wrote Copenhagen, so now I do know who he is. I am scratching around the bookshelves rereading old Ian McEwan so I shall look out for Spies next time I am out.

PS I tried the Poisonwood Bible for the third time ... I'm just never going to make it beyond the first few chapters. Sigh.

Mary said...

Would I like him?

I am almost finished all my Sue Gees and am ready for a new obsession.