Tuesday, 25 January 2011


Toby Litt

I have one basic response Litt novels, most of the time. I want to love them, but I never quite do. There are occcasional exceptions (Hospital, Journey Into Space) -- but exceptions is, I'm learning, the right word.

The existence of such exceptional exceptions keeps me hopeful; and I was a fair distance in to Corpsing before I realised it wasn't going to join them.

It's clever and hip and most probably post-something. The prose is frequently hilarious, smart like new shoes on the surface, and the premise is pretty intriguing.

It lacks a little heart, but heart isn't what this noirish revenge novel needs. In fact, for a novel that starts with a shooting in a restaurant and ends with an attempt to re-enact the same shooting, it lacks focus.

Without giving away the 'twist', the book ends with something of a pull-out and reveal. The issues the reader takes seriously in the novel turn out to be wide of the mark, and not what was really going on. Too wide to count as a near miss, but not nearly wide enough to count as astonishing.

Suddenly we should have been caring about the frustration of police inaction, and intrigued by what the officers were really up to. But for the 300 pages up until that reveal, we and the narrator haven't really bothered about that too much. It was a small problem, and now it's pretending to be the whole plot. And the whole plot has now become an aside.

This has happened to me a lot recently. Authors can't end their books properly. It's not that they go completely for option A when I would prefer B: it's that they go for both, or neither, or forget to put an ending in at all.

What should an ending have? What should an ending be? Is it just me that's struggling to find good ones at the moment?

1 comment:

  1. The best endings manage to make you feel satisfied but at the same time leaves you wanting more.