Waterstones’ “3 for 2” offers have a lot to answer for. I tend to buy books more by the title and cover than the blurb when they’re stacked up high with orange stickers on the tables as you go in through the front door of the Fountain Street branch.
And so Richard Gwyn’s first novel came to sit on my unread pile of books.
The Colour of a Dog Running Away is unusual. It’s a long title for a start. Written in the first person, it’s a story about Lucas, who doesn’t think too straight at the best of times. He follows the cryptic instructions on the back of a postcard that’s pushed under his door and finds himself in love with Nuria. The first half is fairly straightforward.
It’s the second half that ups the tempo and absurdity. Lucas and Nuria are abducted by a Cathar sect which allegedly died out 700 years ago. Living and later held in a Pyrenees settlement, Lucas has been fingered as a reincarnated traitor.
Set in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, with it’s café culture, back street bars, a clairvoyant fire-eater, and the Roof People scampering up walls and over roofs, Gwyn paints a picture of an unusual cast, acting out an barely believable plot, in a hot and sultry set of locations.
“Clever, stylish and supremely entertaining ... this novel offers a feast of sophisticated pleasures and a taste of deeper passions too.” Boyd Tonkin, The Independent
“This is an excellent read. It is cleverly written, dark and funny. Richard Gwyn has entwined a diverse group of characters; given each their own part on his stage, and provided the reader with front row seats at the theatre.” The Scotsman
I disagree. The book has it’s funny moments—like when Lucas’ neighbour takes drastic action to rid his roof terrace of rabbits—and it’s quite a page turner. But it’s not good enough to be wonderful.
Always interested in your views ...