Sunday, May 16, 2010

In the Fold

by Rachel Cusk

A darkly comical British domestic drama with sharply drawn characters, this book is a real pleasure to read. I'm really impressed by the grammar — how many writers manage not to end a sentence with a preposition without sounding awkward? — but the greater source of enjoyment is the odd comfort that flows from the absurdity of social relations and the asininity of relatives. The story is also sort of a comedy of manners, in the sense that politeness, for the British upper and upper-middle classes, is not (as it is for Americans) about doing the right thing but about seeming unperturbed and unconcerned with other people's and even one's own misbehaviors. The author offers a more modern version, as well, of the classic stiff upper lip in the form of a suburban conformity and complacency that somehow comes off as charming, at least in contrast with the obvious sociopathy of the putatively self-actualized characters.

Am I telling you anything that will make you want to read this book? It's not easy to do with books such as this one. The comparison that comes quickest to mind is Mark Haddon's A Spot of Bother, or perhaps All Families Are Psychotic by Douglad Coupland.

No comments: