Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Attack Of The Unsinkable Rubber Ducks
If I was in any doubt about my resolution to only read new authors this summer (I wasn't) I wouldn't be now (I'm still not.)
If you think that sentence is convoluted, then you've never come across the plot of Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks (particularly with that word 'doubt' floating about.)
First off, this book is brilliant. Once this SOS business is over and I can raed books by familiar authors, reading another Brookmyre is going to be a high priority. It's funny, clever, and peopled with more than a few excellent characters, and more than one compelling narrator.
The plot is built around the (ridiculous) ongoing debate between rationality and mysticism. Such is its intelligent switches of perspective, deliberately (and apologetically) misleading narration, and sheer twisty intricacy, that you're never quite sure which side of the debate the book is going to finally land on. The raging, sweary skeptic telling us most of the story is speaking from beyond the grave.
It's that narrator, who occasionally hands the tale over to a very able supporting cast of slap-deserving journalists and Firefly-watching geeks, who really shines. It's his self-aware, ranting-Scot angle on events that had me laughing out loud, and it's his feats of reader-deception that would have had me gasping in wonder, if I was the gasping-in-wonder type. I'm not.
I would love to be able to plot a book like this. Honestly, I've no idea how Brookmyre goes about it. I'd love to ask him how he gets from an initial thought to this plot. Working backwards, there doesn't seem a viable path... it's a miracle! That's not the dreaded 'where do your ideas come from?' question, remember, but 'how do you develop and construct the idea once you've got it?'
What really turns the complexity up to the level that would have Creationists shouting about (Very) Intelligent Design is the central role of charlatry in the story. (Okay, that's not a real word, but it should be.) Everyone is at some level a con-artist or a cynic or a gullible fool, and mostly a hard-to-guess mixture of the both. ANd that includes the reader. Or at least that's what you're meant to think, so you're constantly second-guessing yourself. Or I was. Or was I? Argh.
And that's pretty much how I ended up thinking by the end of this book, alongside one other thought. The other thought was: this is so good.
I'm pretty sure I've not actually, actively recommended a book on this blog yet. I've talked them up, but never made that extra step and told you to go out and read them. Even though I've talked about Chabon and Lodge and Pratchett and VONNEGUT.
So it should be with that in mind that you, awestruck reader, take this recommendation very very seriously:
GO OUT AND BUY/BORROW/INHERIT THIS BOOK.