Wednesday, 14 July 2010

The Last Days Of The Lacuna Cabal

by Sean Dixon.

My my my, I haven't blogged for a while. Which is partly because I haven't read for a while. Which is partly because I've been doing other awesome fun stuff, which I may talk about on here in a separate post.

I have read a couple of books recently, though, and it's high time I caught up with myself and blogged about them.

I've set myself the personal challenge of only reading authors I've not read before this summer, and I'm sure I gave it some mildly irritating acronym -- SOS, I think, which could only stand for Summer Of Strangers.

The Last Days Of The Lacuna Cabal is a perfect example of what this challenge should involve. We got it in our bookshop over a year ago, and I loved the cover enough to read all the blurb, but not enough to buy it. But nobody else bought it either, and it ended up in one of our sales a couple of months ago, and I picked it up.

I'm glad I did, though I'm still not completely sure what I think of this novel. It's an interesting, whimsical yet heartfelt story, though it's not clear what the real story is until too close to the end. The Lacuna Cabal Montreal Young Women's Book Club re-enact the books they read, and a dying cripple tricks them into reading the Epic of Gilgamesh, and so they end up in Iraq. Where there is a war on. Oh, and that's because one of the members die, and her younger brother switches re-enactment stories, and they have an amazing robot tracker from the future.

There's a lot of cool stuff going on here, and I can't help thinking that these ingredients should add up to something I'm more won over by. I think it's what I've already mentioned in passing -- the actual story, that should be driving it along from the start, only kicks in at the end. I liked the last section a lot.

A mitigating point, though: I read this book over the course of a fortnight (a looong time, for me) because I was busy with other stuff. So any disjointment or lack of focus in the story may have had something to do with the way I read it.

Reading it in bits and bobs didn't stop me enjoying it, though. Each part of the story -- every time I picked it up -- is told in a new and intriguing way. Like any book, it is a series of events that are only brought to life by the perspective and interpretation of their presentation; but in Lacuna Cabal, presentation keeps changing.

The two narrators don't change -- though they are characters at one point, then just narrators, then godly flies -- but it's like with every scene they wrote, they asked themselves, 'how can we make this different?'

The author almost says as much in the end notes. It doesn't surprise me that the book was originally going to be a play. Bits of it still are, in fact. And it doesn't surprise me that it's gone through a whole world of revisions, interpretations and workshops. That multiplicity is clearly evident in the final thing, and while that is part of it's charm, I can't help thinking that's what holds it back as well.

A joke, unrelated to the book, or this blog post, or anything: 'I hate Russian Dolls. They're so full of themselves.'


No comments:

Post a Comment