Monday, 18 August 2014

The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker

Preface (of sorts)

"Somerset Police. What's your emergency?"

Two sentences here. This preface is super short and ends with news that shocked a town, that a girl has disappeared.

October 2008
(Thirty-three years after the disappearance)

My book was the talk of the town.

We learn that this narrator is a writer who enjoys Beatle-like success and is hounded in the streets of Manhattan. If it were only true. The realty is that most people wouldn't recognize a writer if the author's book fell from a five story building and brained them on the side of the head. Authors fade away before their work does - if they're lucky. Not many people know who wrote Peter Pan or what the guy looks like. Unless you're Pynchon, then everyone wants to know you and that one picture of his is as famous as Ronald McDonald's mug.

First thing said:

"Look, it's Goldman!"

The prologue is short as I've said. It's mostly about how awesome this writer and narrator is or was.

Chapter 1:

"The first chapter, Marcus, is essential."

It's given the number of 30 and the chapters seem to count down, but we all know that what is at the beginning is what comes first and gets the heading of chapter 1, regardless of what the author says to the contrary.

This opening is part of a couple lines that explore whether a writer can write a book and how to begin. It looks like a heading or cutaway scene. On the next page we get what looks like the beginning of what looks like chapter 1.

In early 2008, about a year and half after my first novel had made me the new darling of American letters, I was seized by a terrible case of writer's block -  a common affliction, I am told, for writers who have enjoyed sudden, meteoric success.

I discovered the solution to writer's block: Just take two of whatever Stephen King is taking, then not give a crap, and start typing whatever nonsense or otherwise that pops into your head. Or if you have the connections, do what Patterson and Cussler do: Have someone else right the book. [typo intended - or not?]

This opening goes on to explain the writer's descent into the hell of fearing the blank page. I can imagine a lot of reader's not enjoying this and just as many readers not really caring or understanding this particular type of Twilight Zone discomfort.

Verdict: Pass (barely)

This gets 2.5 stars, the meh pass, because on the plus side there is the disappearance of the girl and the writer's impotency, but it's soon repetitive and thus begins to tire as my attention starts to wander.

Theodore Moracht

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