Monday, February 22, 2010

jodi picoult's rubbish million-seller perfect match

I am listening to an audio book (my first) of a Jodi Picoult book called Perfect Match. The narrator is very good, but I am uncertain whether I am impatient because when reading normally I just jump around the page or whether it's because Picoult is an incredibly frustratingly drawn-out pain in the arse writer.* I am about half way through and I reckon the priest was a twin and the twin was the abuser, not the priest. I really hope that is the case, because that would be sufficiently subversive to compensate for the hours spent listening to the interior monologues of these appalling people. It does occur to me that the priest should be holding a service while the kids are at sunday school, so how does he come to be abusing little boys in the boiler room at that time? Yet the ghastly protagonist and her self-righteousness leads her to shoot the priest in court and everyone around her is congratulating her over it (as are most of the readers, I guess). Well, even if this is not how it's going to pan out - how could it not though - anyway even if it isn't, I still can't forgive JP for being such a dull and obvious writer. I see people reading her books all the time on the train, which is what piquoed my interest. Now I see they are the novel-reading version of looking straight ahead with a vacant expression. Anyway like so many things (the surprisingly similar and equally execrable We Need to Talk About Kevin, for instance) I can't not keep going with it.

Later: OK I was wrong about twins (maybe twins don't have the same DNA, how the hell would I know) but it was half-brother priests one of whom had given the other bone marrow which apparently gives you the same DNA as your donor. Who knew!? Still the book is completely morally corrupt and revolting, because it's all about killing rock spiders out of revenge. When Nina Frost realises she's killed the wrong priest she is much more upset that the right (i.e. child molesting) priest is still alive, than she is that the wrong one is dead because she killed him so that her son would not have to testify against him (the suggestion seems to be that then going and killing the right priest would make killing the wrong one 'mean something'). I would just love to see brain scans of plebs reading this stuff. I would like to see what patterns their brains light up in when the noxious child Nathaniel - a kind of Little Lord Fauntleroy for today - gives his own perspective, too ('it smells of November' is all I can bear to remember of his testimony) I know, I know, I am turning into a Leavisite. I'm not even that much of a highbrow. I know this trash pushes buttons for me too, just different ones but still every bit as unconscious and stupid, which is why I am persisting with it and afterwards, I feel soiled and cheap, though at least I do not feel dirty like a thousand showers would not clean me and I'd have to scrub my own skin off, which is the experience of a couple of the characters in this foul tome.

Much later: Finally finished this gruelling potboiler. Feels like having come through a minor illness. Still confused about the author's intentions. Does she condone a killing spree en route to 'closure' for her child? (PS obviously in writing that last sentence I confused author and narrator. Picoult must be a genius).

* I keep thinking about Orwell's essay on Frank Richards, which also makes me think about Orwell on Miss Blandish and seaside postcards.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

mavis 1909-2010

My grandmother Mavis died yesterday morning after a short illness. Her last words were 'can I go now?'*
I was close to her particularly in the 1960s as she looked after me a lot then the take-home message from those days as relayed to me was her trying to stop me running into everyone's driveway. It is very sad to see her go, but we were certainly all aware that she was hoping to go, with her faculties essentially intact, and not a nuisance to anyone. She did not need glasses to read the paper.

*I'm creating a myth here, or trying to. She said some other things, I've been told, on the same general topic and this encapsulates the sentiment.

Monday, February 15, 2010