Wednesday, 15 June 2011

*Cryptic Review Alert*

In The Canal, Lee Rourke’s curiously haunting novel, we follow the ‘events’ of an unnamed male protagonist as he ‘falls in love’ with an unnamed female ‘sociopath’. I have put those terms in quotes because, frankly, this is not a book where a lot happens; this is not the type of love story we’re exposed to in popular culture; these aren’t the types of characters who one ends up having an absolute loving or loathing for – our views on them fluctuate, and by the end of the novel, we don’t know what’s right or wrong, or whether, more importantly, one side of right isn’t just the underbelly of another side of wrong, and vice versa.

I don’t want to go into detail about the plot, nor do I wish to thoroughly analyse what might be best described as controversial ideas. I don’t think it matters whether we empathise with a man who has quit his job to more fervently pursue the interests of a woman who fantasises about suicide-bombers. Nor do I wish to be as bold as to say that a man who spends more time watching Jumbo Jets circle Heathrow airport is infinitely more interesting than the office drones across the water to him. But that’s what this book is about: I’ve told you bits about it, I’ve imparted some subjective opinions. Now I think you should go and read it, as if society told you it’s what’s expected, as if following online recommendations – as I did – is the best way to expand your cultural horizons.

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