Friday, December 29, 2006

The Colour of a Dog Running Away – Richard Gwyn

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 ...


Alan in Belfast (Alan Meban) said...

Thanks for the links. Interesting to hear the range of views.

I was surprised to be able to walk around the huge Charring Cross Road branch of Borders in London a week or two ago and be unable to find a third book that I wanted to read that was badged "3 for 2". After an hour I set the two books down, and left the store empty handed.

The pre-Christmas range of discounted books was appalling.

But bringing more books into our house is to be discouraged - though only lightly adhered to! It was fun to surf the links above and discover your 2006 new books embargo! Are you having another in 2007?

Alan in Belfast (Alan Meban) said...

I've been reading a lot more recently - mainly since I've been away for 4 or 5 days a week thoughout most of the end of November, beginning of December, so more time sitting on planes or lying on hotel beds to turn a few pages.

The Colour of a Dog Running Away was finished about two weeks ago, before Magnus Mills and his Explorers of the New Century was started. But Mills is always a fast read.

The film Esma's Secret will get a posting later on too - to tidy up this year's films.

Happy New Year!