Monday, August 30, 2010

Good to be God

As usual, I seem to read books a couple of years after they're published. Either this is because I'm too mean to shell out for a hardback, or there's some sort of timewarp between London and Hong Kong, so that we only get novels long after everyone else. Maybe that's a chance for nostalgia at the cultural lives of nineteenth century expatriates.

Anyway, Tibor Fischer wrote Good To Be God, which has some interesting ideas: it's a wish-fulfilment fantasy where a man takes on a new identity and reinvents himself in Miami.

(Where everything admits of several layers of fakery anyway: I suppose if you want to deny reality, Miami is a good place to do it.)

Unfortunately, because of the archness of the narrator constantly pointing out the pointlessness of reinvention and fantasy, and a middle section of the book where really nothing happens, the initial promise feels squandered. There's some great lines, and some lovely inventions of slang, but the narrator and the book both go nowhere.

Perhaps this is impressive work on the part of Fischer, to give us a narrator we don't care for, but it is hard to detach the narrator from the author's voice, and it's also hard to engage with somebody so gloomy, so eeyoreish.

Or perhaps it's because the blurb gives away too much, or the cheap deus ex machina that unfurls at the end, or the loose ends still flapping around. I'm a little depressed, because Under The Frog was a book that made a real impression on me, but even the call-back to the accidental discovery of an arms-cache in that book isn't fully satisfying; it is just part of a meaningless story that doesn't move us anywhere, even while it's studded with beautiful, cynical, gloriously overwrought sentences.


Post a Comment