New today from Book View Café is Chaz Brenchley’s Dispossession, an unusual, intricate, and engrossing mystery with an element of fantasy.
I picked this novel up by chance from the inner-sanctum of BVC, without knowing anything about it, not even what genre it was. It didn’t take long to hook me. The writing is gorgeous, and the story deeply intriguing: this is a tale of amnesia, as protagonist Jonty Marks wakes in hospital three months after his last recallable memory to find his staid life utterly changed.
Writers write for different reasons, for different goals, for different purposes. My own writing grew out of my love for adventure stories: lots of action, big sets, suffering heroes and antiheroes. Dispossession has its own action and determined plot, but it seems to me it’s written more to illuminate the human condition. In this age of 99-cent pot boilers, I’m almost afraid to tell you that much of this long book involves the inner reflections of the protagonist, Jonty Marks, and sadly it feels necessary to add the story is not boring at all! Here’s a quote to show you what I mean, with a few sentences snipped out that might be spoilers:
I still thought he was nineteen; still thought that was exact. Full growth but no maturity, whip-fast reflexes and not an ounce more flesh than he could need or want; fire and hunger, passion and arrogance and the habit of instant judgment with no sense of perspective, no leniency.
And beauty, of course […] and engulfing all, the certainty that there was no forgiveness, that there could be no reconciliation in this world or any other.
And that also was pure nineteen-year-old thinking, and not subject to debate.
As a writer, I deeply admire the ability to write descriptions like that.
Another interesting aspect of Dispossession for me: this is the most “British” book I’ve ever read. I was frequently asking my Kindle to provide me with definitions for unfamiliar words, and slowly realized that all the other books I’ve read by British authors must have been translated into “American.” This is the pure product.
You’ll find a more extensive description of Dispossession’s plot at Book View Café — too much description, in my opinion. Books should tell their own story, as the plot unfolds. My recommendation is to skip reading the BVC description and just grab the sample chapters. That will let you know if Dispossession is a book for you, or not.
If you do read it, let me know what you think!