Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Review: FACELESS by Martina Cole

This is definitely commercial fiction and Cole breaks many of the 'sacred' rules of fiction: she includes great chunks of telling rather showing and repeats each character's motivation endlessly. The editing is also suspect at times:she has obviously experimented with several ways of writing the same thing and then has not totally deleted all the redundant words. And-sin of sin-sometimes commas are not used correctly.

Her main character, Marie, who has just been released from prison for a double murder (but I don't believe she did it),speaks in a very middle class way, when she's supposedly working class, apart from a few "me's' instead of 'my's' and the occasional 'fuck'.

HOWEVER, not only am I really enjoying the read but also, Martina Cole is a best seller and must have made more than a few bucks and I still can't find an agent, so I don't feel in way superior about her not particularly fantastic writing skills.

Her characters, most of whom are scumbags, are believable, if somewhat over-stated, and she writes about an underclass where drugs, prostitution and violence are prevelent so it makes for a fascinating read. I don't know what 'rocks' are but I'd certainly not like to get addicted to them.

Okay, the Festival is over, so here's my second 'take' on novels I've been reading recently.

But before I do so, I want to set the scene about my reading preferences.

Because I studied literature for 'A' levels and then my degree in the 1960s and 1970s, I've already read many of the great novels of literature.

Favourites that readily spring to mind are: 'War and Peace', Doctor Zhivago', 'The Alexandrian Quartets', 'Gone With the Wind', 'Madam Bovary', 'How Green Was My Valley', 'Pride And Prejudice' in fact, all of Jane Austen's novels, 'Tess of the Durbevilles', 'Far from the Madding Crowd' (don't you just hate the hypocrisy of Angel!),'Exodus', 'Catch 22' (brilliant), 'A Town Like Alice', 'A Tale of Two Cities', 'For Whom The Bell Tolls'( a real weepy) - the list is endless.

I also had a penchant for authors like Alistair Maclean, Agatha Christie, Jack Higgins etc, what I would call more commercial writers. I lapped us these books whilst living in Cyprus. One of my employers (mother of the two children I was a sort of governess to (Dimitri and Louisa - a lot of fun)) had an enormous selection of paperbacks which I was able to borrow.

The only writers I have a real dislike for, despite the fact that are world renowned and I know that technically they are brilliant, are D.H.Lawrence, E.F. Foster and Joseph Conrad. Their novels are just too dark for me and somewhat boring. I would also never even attempt work by authors like Proust: life's just too short.

There are very few authors that I've come across who make me laugh out loud, which is a real pity, but both Evelyn Waugh and Lyn Truss do that for me, plus Tom Sharpe and not forgetting 'The Little World of Don Camilo' series. I'd love to be able to write a comedy -I think that making people laugh is a wonderful gift - but it's very hard to do, which is why there are so few genuinely funny novels about.

If you come across any, then please leave details in the comments section!

More recently, I've become addicted to crime novels, particularly those written by Michael Connelly (I'm partly in love with Harry Bosch, who is the detective most featured in the novels - although he must be hell to live with), Mo Hayder and Mark Billingham. I'll also read anything by John Le Carre, who is the greatest living novelist of our time, in my opinion. But because I want to break into publishing, I'm devouring novels that are very popular with agents/publishers/book awards/the general public in some hope of seeing where my Cyprus novel would fit in.


Anonymous said...

Catch-22, the funniest book you'll ever read, closely followed by A. J. Wentworth, B. A.

Maggie Knutson said...

I totally agree about Catch 22 - I stayed up all night to read it. Marvellously funny but bitingly critical of war.

Dorothy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dorothy said...

Engish Passengers and Cold Comfort Farm made me laugh. Belated Happy Birthday to you. Sounds like the Amsterdam trip was great.

Dorothy said...

That should have been English Passengers!