Tuesday, 6 May 2014
Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins
The names in this opening line indicate a foreign or even alien setting. Unfortunately, it is nothing more than a name sitting somewhere. The next sentence succumbs to a weather report:
Pulses of rain swept up Ansky Prospect, but inside the cafe, in the afternoon crush, the air was thick with the smell of coffee, cinnamon bread and damp overcoats.
I like how setting is established using the sense of smell. It is an underused technique. This is the power of the written word: it can put our nose anywhere. In this case it gives us a little more about the cafe, though not much and nothing I personally care about. Nevertheless, it is conflict that is story and not setting, which in this case is little more than landscape painting with black ink.
Dialogue comes next:
"Why don't you go home?"
It soon transpires that two characters are watching someone, waiting for something to happen. I suppose you could say they are waiting for the book to begin, but in the meantime, while these characters and us readers wait, the author fills us in on a little back story, some of which is said by characters, which only barely lessens the pain. In general, when characters are speaking to one another, reviewing each other's back story, it sounds fake and forced, not that this is the case in this novel, but it is noticeable on page 2.
In addition, more setting is inserted for no real reason other than to unhook anyone who may have gotten themselves accidentally hooked by this.