Wednesday, June 1, 2011

We Are Family???

So Many Ways to BeginSo Many Ways to Begin by Jon McGregor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

David Carter - Curator of a local museum; obsessive collector and archivist of his own life

........until a senile relative reveals a long-buried family secret. Then David's life slips out of orbit. So begins his own personal Reconstruction..and his coming to terms with the fact that his life has not been what it seemed....that he isn't who he thought he was. so begins his search for "self".

Add to this a wife with bipolar disorder and its attendant strains...troubles in the workplace both personal and professional.....a daughter turned rebellious...and David's own batch of demons and weaknesses..and you have a heartbreaker of a story.

The author has an engaging style that moves the story along without undue sentimentality or "drama"...The ending could have been "tighter", but that's a minor quibble..and seems perfectly correct, in hindsight. The book has a definite British feel to it...."brave stoicism" with hysteria and rage lying just below the surface.

I liked the way McGregor portrayed David's situation as his life spiraled downwards- the confusion, frustration and anger so well-contained....only bursting forth at intervals..then receding quietly..until the next time. McGregor also writes about sex between married people in a healthily realistic fashion- no "throbbing" or "heaving" here...just "the way it is" in all its glory...the blessed "routine" of it all.

I recommend this to anyone who enjoys intelligent Soap Opera......who enjoys a good story, well told, without a patent "happy ending"...who is still "searching for self" (though maybe not this thoroughly)......I say give this one a try...

4 Stars (****)

1 comment:

Sandra said...

This was my third book by McGregor. If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things and Even the Dogs were both very powerful and I gave them top rating and recommend them highly to anyone who enjoys a well-written story with strong emotions. So Many Ways to Begin was good but just not as stunning as his two others. I enjoyed the first half of the book, while he was puttering around in the museum more than the latter half, I can't really say why. But his writing is wonderful and I can't wait for his next novel.