Saturday, June 17, 2017

What Belongs To You

I will be doing a short course later next month called How To Read A Novel, and some of the books that will be referenced are the nominees for the James Tait Black Prize for fiction.   I have not actually heard of this prize, but I understand that it is based out of the University of Edinburgh which is where my course is hosted and that it is being taught in conjunction with the prizes being awarded this summer (which I think is really nifty!).
Fortunately BC Libraries has all four books so I will be able to read them all before the course starts in July.  Starting with this book What Belongs To You by Garth Greenwell.  The audio book was the only option available, which I didn't mind.  Sometimes it helps to be given a voice rather than imagining your own.  Since finishing it though, I think I would like to see the words too.  It was an especially stunning work of writing.
It's realistic fiction, which I have often had some struggles with and this one in particular had some explicit mentions of sex (which always makes me uncomfortable).  I was anxious for another reason... my son is gay, so I think I transferred my own motherly concern on to the protagonist and I was unnecessarily worried, perhaps.  I say perhaps because I'm pretty sure I would have been anxious anyway because of the incredibly stupid and dangerous things this character did with sexual partners.  But then, this novel was all about him finding himself and understanding his needs in a relationship with another person, so I guess he had to find out the hard way (which is where the graphic quality of his sexual encounters aids in showing us, the readers, how he got there).  I was cheering by the end of the book (and very relieved!).

I will also use the 'V' word ( I love it when an opportunity comes along for me to use it!) because in this debut novel by Garth Greenwell, both protagonist and author share some similarities, being both American, educators and having worked in Bulgaria. It does add that extra something... verisimilitude!

Coming up next:  A Country Road, A Tree by Jo Baker.

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