threemonkeys: (Waxlion)
As I have said before, I enjoy a good rant - even when I don't necessarily agree with what is being ranted about. I'm not so fussed about preaching. The distinction in my mind being the difference in intent. A strong expression of ones own opinions is qualitatively different from an attempt to ram those opinions down your throat with an intent to convert you. More specifically, I'm not very fond of blatant preaching type messages being shoehorned into a novel - even if I agree entirely with the message. The context here is that I have just read The Steep Approach to Garbadale by Iain Banks and it contains a number of embedded mini-sermons on global warming and American imperialism. They jarred rather badly. If you are going to put a message in your fiction, please weave it through the narrative so that it is integral - don't just drop it in by the dirty great handful.

Now that I have that off my chest I can report that the rest of the book is a rather charming and engrossing read. It is one of those personal discovery books where the thin to non-existent plot is subservient to exploring the nature of the character. In this case a main character and a family who he interacts with. Told with flashbacks and a number of short POV changes the book explores those things while a thin and predictable mystery plot chugs along providing a semblance of structure. There are riffs on friendship and love along with the family interactions which combine to make relationships the real story. Where I really admire Banks is his ability to make this stuff move of its own volition. Too many times deep character examination via introspection will bog a book down but that does not happen here. This may reduce the intensity a bit but I don't think that is a bad thing as long as the character engagement is there - which it is.

For the quality of the writing and the depth of the characters, I really like this book - pity about the pulpit work.

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threemonkeys

June 2015

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