Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Optimists - Andrew Miller

It was the best of books. It was the worst of books. If it was a film, there would be a three minute opening shot of a cup of coffee, in French. I will not say that reading it was like watching paint dry, but only because on pages four and five, Clem, the anti-hero of the story watches it for us.
Fortunately, there are sub-plots: Claire, Clem’s brilliant sister, with her strange psychological illness and stranger girlfriend, Finola; their widowed father, now a monk and forbidden from talking to Claire; their aunt Laura, mentally disabled cousin Kenneth, his sister Frankie, who is marrying Ray, who nobody seems to like, except Clem and us. I won’t even start on the African dictator.
Colin’s story wraps itself up and finishes the book, disappointingly, before all the sub-plots, leaving the elephant-in-the-living-room type questions unanswered. And that’s why it was the best of books: because you chew over the sub-plots for weeks afterwards – it’s a book that keeps on giving.

Who: Andrew Miller
What: The Optimists
Who by: Sceptre
When: March 2005
Where: London
Why: It keeps you thining long after you have finished reading
Why not: Slow and unsatisfying moments make you want to give up
How much: £16.99