Sunday, December 27, 2015

Kate's Latest Is Impressive, But.................

                              I must be getting jaded, girls.  I love Kate Atkinson, and when I heard her newest, "A God In Ruin's" was a follow up to her wonderful "Life After Life," I was excited to read it.  I also kept hearing about its heartbreaking ending, and kept readying myself for that, as I read the novel.

                               "Life After Life," told in non-linear terms, was the story of Ursula Todd, of the Todd family.  In the same vein, "A God In Ruins" is the story of her brother, Teddy.  Teddy's story is just not compelling, or maybe the novelty of the first book has been lost, but I smell a series.  I think more Todds will be coming forth to tell their stories.

                               Which is not a bad idea.  I have enjoyed all of Kate's detective novels, and I am sure I will enjoy more of the Todds.  But it cannot be overlooked that  "A God In Ruins" does not measure up to the previous book, and I think the fault is Teddy's more than Kate's.  Her writing, as always, is solid and impeccable.

                                I was surprised to see this book did not make the New York Times Ten Best List.  It would have made mine, girls!!!!!!!!!  But, then I hold to a higher standard than The New York Times, and I have ego and nerve enough to say it.

                                 Kate Atkinson may not have written the Book Of The Year, but, in one episode, she writes what is the Fictive Sequence Of The Year, and it had me howling with laughter so much, that people on the subway must have thought I was a nut having some kind of psychotic break.  Well, it wouldn't have been the first time.

                                 What happens is this--

                                  Teddy's daughter, Viola, who blames him for the death of her mother, Nancy, and is estranged from him, marries a loser artist named Dominic Villiers, who, of course, is from a wealthy family, so he can afford to be a loser artist.  After they produce a son, named Sunny, Dominic dies in a questionable suicide.  Sunny, who has been living with Teddy, and loves it, is removed to the Villiers estate, and forced to live with his other set of grandparents, where the hate runs both ways. His mother, Viola, abandons him, running off to join a commune.  Sunny is reduced to a psychological wreck, because, I am telling you, Grandma Villiers is several steps removed from the granny of "Flowers In The Attic."  If "A God In Ruins" is ever filmed, get Louise Fletcher on the phone immediately!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                   The reader would like to see Grandma Villiers get it, and boy does she!!!!!!!!  They hire this fag tutor for Sunny, whom they insist on calling Phillip, and the abuse is such that, during lessons, Sunny cannot go to the bathroom, and he reaches a point where he cannot control himself!!!!!!!!!!!  Wait till you hear this one, girls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                   Because he feels he will have an accident, he runs from the tutor, and makes it to the living room, where he knows he is going to lose it.  He decides it is better for him not to soil his pants, so he pulls them down, and, just in time, Granny enters, to see her grandson taking a dump on the expensive rug!
Of course, she has more concern for the rug than the child, so she calls him all kinds of names, but Sunny has had it, and, in retaliation, pushes Granny against the wall, screaming at her, "And you are a cunt!!!!!!!!!!!!"   After that, of course, Sunny is swiftly back with Teddy!!!!!!!!!!!

                                  This was the highlight of the book!  It is unforgettable, and while I would never dump on the rug, I wouldn't take crap from some Louise Fletcher bitch wannabe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                     Now, about that heartbreaking ending.  For me it was like, "ho hum."  A group of children, whom the reader has gotten to know at length as adults throughout the novel, are reading a children's book, at Christmastime, musing on their futures, which the reader knows by now will not be rosy.
I took a breath at its poignancy--until I realized the same idea was accomplished, and with even more precision and poignancy, in the Sondheim musical, "Merrily We Roll Along!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

                                    Still a not so great Kate Atkinson is better than, say, Jodi Picoult!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  There is enough in "A God In Ruins" to make it worth one's while, but it is not the masterwork it should have been.  But read it for that sequence!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                  And get me Louise Fletcher, on the phone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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