Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Just finished reading: Sort of Rich

Every so often I feel as if I've 'discovered' an author.  Patrick Hamilton , a writer of wonderful dark prose falls into this category as I had to retrieve one of his novels,Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky, out of the Exeter Library's 'stack', a home for no longer borrowed books.  I imagine this to be a sad dark, dank place where the occasional gem nestles  unloved amongst volumes devoted to books I've found in remainder shops in the past.  Rather disturbingly  'Knitting with Dog Hair' and 'Naked Aerobics' spring to mind

The writer, James Wilcox,  is another personal find.  I fell upon his novel,  Modern Baptists, in the tea shop in Minehead's Blenheim Gardens where the family were seeking refreshment after a frenzied game of pitch and putt.  When coming out of the door with his cup of tea this caught my eye on a tale of discounted books on sale.   It is a Penguin Modern Classics edition and  the introduction by Jim Crace suggests that this author has "respect but no sales." which is so surprising given the clever characterisation and witty prose.

Sort of Rich is the second of his books that I've read and a pattern to this guy's writing is emerging.  Both novels are set in Tula Springs, a small town in Louisiana and explore the interrelationships between diverse characters who live or work in close proximity to each other.  The writing is beautifully crafted and there are 'laugh out loud' moments.

I am so perplexed as to why this author isn't better known but perhaps it reflects on the power of marketing in the book trade. So even though Devon Library Service have one copy of each of his novels, I intend to buy the others that I haven't read yet with the aim of giving Mr Wilcox the warm fuzzy feeling that receipt of royalties might induce. I can then also 'spread the word' by sharing his lovely books with my friends after I've read them myself!

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