The Giller Prize Book Club: Book Three and the Shortlist.

imgresWell, I had the strange fortune to have chosen mostly books that didn’t get to the Giller Prize shortlist. I don’t mind, of course, but I had hoped to read all of the books on the short list and it might be kind of a tall order now.

Caught by Lisa Moore was my latest read and it was sort of a job. I liked it and I am tempted to only tell you about the thing that I liked about it because I am feeling a bit peer-pressured. There aren’t many reviews (I did find one, however) of Caught that aren’t a excited gushes of adoration and support.

So, I’ll start out with what I liked about the book:

imgres-1Once the reader gets through the pages and pages of wordsmithery that set up the story, Moore does incite some interest in the suspense of the plot. I really did wonder if poor Slaney would succeed in his prison break and find freedom.

I thought that she did a bang-up job of seamlessly weaving in and out of characters perspectives and dialogue. It’s a third person story that gives the feeling of a first person account. That is no simple feat.

The thing that brought me down is the false complexity of the plot. It was relatively simple and had a linear story line that leads to a logical-ish conclusion, but it wasn’t surprising. I got the feeling that the writer wanted to create an atmosphere of danger and multiple possibilities, but what seemed to happen was a lot of false starts and stops that were incidental and constructed rather than causal.

What went down for Slaney seemed to happen to him rather that by him. And since he wasn’t the agent of his destiny because of things he couldn’t control, I couldn’t route for him really because I knew that there was nothing he could do.

The most interesting character was his best friend and partner in crime, Hearn, who I never really got to know well enough to care much about. It seemed that the author wanted to created tension between him and Slaney and she did, but no more than with anyone else – except for with that harsh-obvious Shakespearean reference.

Everyone was suspect which made no one interesting. In the end I didn’t really mind how it turned out. Maybe that is the point of the story and I’ve missed a higher level reading, but I doubt it somehow.

It was an ambitious book, a thriller, a literary novel and a little bit experimental. Maybe that is what I didn’t love about it. It was written like it was meant to be those things rather than just interesting. I’d rather books be plain interesting than tricky and manufactured.


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