Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Summer book recommendation

I don't usually do book recommendations here, but summer's coming, and it's time to tune into racy pacy detective novels and the kind of stuff that you're more likely to read on beach.

This summer, I'd urge you to have a look at Cathi Unsworth's 'The Singer.'

I'd normally be reluctant to read a novel set in a recognisable milieu. There's usually something very annoying about the way some writers insist on hanging their tent on the pegs of public personae. I recently put a Neal Stephenson novel down only a few pages in because the protagonist had managed to rub shoulders with both Issac Newton and Benjamin Franklin (as children) in the early chapters.

But Cathi Unsworth has picked one good exception: The aftermath of London's punk scene.

I say this because punk was one of those things that almost everyone in this city who is now in their mid-40s seems to have had some sort of inside track on. I often meet people in pubs who played bit-parts bands that I've actually heard of.

And The Singer gives you the best of both worlds. For most of it, you think you're reading a well-written story that showcases the fucked-up later lives of ex-bandmembers. The jealousies, hangups and little secrets are worth reading in themselves.

But by the end of it, you realise that you've been nosing though something that Patricia Highsmith would have probably been very pleased with.

I won't say any more, because I'll spoil the ending.

No comments: