David Green

David Green (Books) is the imprint under which I publish booklets of my own poems, or did. There might not be any more to come. We will have to see what happens but, having written The Perfect Book, there might not be anything else to do. Apart from that, the website has become what it is. I hope you find at least some of it worthwhile.

Monday, 5 March 2012

William Boyd - Waiting for Sunrise



William Boyd, Waiting for Sunrise (Bloomsbury)


I saw some discussion somewhere recently about how and why a new novel by William Boyd is not quite regarded in the same league as an event like a new one by Julian Barnes, Ian MacEwan or Alan Hollinghurst.

But he's simply not as 'good'. He is not quite as 'literary'. He is not quite in the same league. This is another fine entertainment, full of interest, imagination and fine writing but, like Ordinary Thunderstorms, it is episodic with the twists and turns required of an adventure story. Not only does one wonder if disbelief needs to be suspended- and one needs to suspend it willingly- but for once I remembered the Classical unities of Time, Place and Action and considered their benefits. Not having been a WW1 spy, it's not for me to comment on the likeliness of the story because I'm sure that some very unlikely things did happen. Also, although the book seems to unfold with alarming turns of events, it must have been plotted from the start and not just made up as it went along. Neither do I know if being 'up for it' was a phrase in common usage in 1915 in the same way that it has been in recent years. I remember one theory of Aesthetics advancing the idea that every art work is implicitly prefaced by the sentence, 'I see the world, and invite you to see the world, thus.' But, on the other hand, we were also taught about the 'Intentional Fallacy', very much in vogue when I was at University, majoring in playing pool and drinking draught bitter, and so it might not be a measure of this book's success if we find any difficulty in believing it.

But I didn't have any difficulty in believing every word, the authenticity, of Barnes' Sense of an Ending, MacEwan's On Chesil Beach or Hollinghurst's The Stranger's Child. Therein might lie at least one difference. I don't want to disparage Boyd at all. This is full of interest in Psychology, espionage, theatre and, inevitably, sex and it is a pleasure to read, never being anything less than something one wanted to get back to, and so I wouldn't try to dissuade anyone from it because it is surely a page-turner with all the escape into another world that reading fiction ever has to offer.

One does start to anticipate the twists and turns, though, and begin to have little side bets on which way it will go next, like all the red herrings and false clues provided in an episode of Midsomer Murders. In fact, at the end, when Andromeda, the traitor, has been identified by Lysander, the protagonist, I was still wondering if that was the answer. I wondered if Lysander wasn't the ultimate 'unreliable narrator' himself and he was the double agent but was the last person that would ever reveal himself and so didn't. That's the trouble with so many twists and turns. You can't tell if there is still one more or if you've finally heard it all and that's your lot. Perhaps that was the point. Isn't it always the way.