Thursday, June 29, 2006

Blindsight

I’ve been accused of only ever reading female writers, and, to a certain extent, that’s true. As a young girl, I loved murder mysteries, so I read the likes of ES Gardner, James McClure, Ross MacDonald and Patrick Quentin (I didn’t like Ellery Queen or Rex Stout).

Then I discovered non-detective fiction and moved on to Irwin Shaw, Eric Malpass and Robert Graves. Teenage years saw John Wyndham and Douglas Adams and Maurice Druon and a million other (men) whose names I can’t be bothered to remember at the moment.

But nowadays I find male voices too violent, too crude, too visual, too weird. I remember reading Wharton’s Last Lovers not so long ago and doing a mental “blehhh” in several places.

Phew, that’s quite an introduction to Maurice Gee’s “Blindsight”. Written in the first person singular FEMALE, it was perhaps easier to stomach than it might have been otherwise. Easier, but not easy. The book is a sad one (at its core is the break-up of a loving sibling relationship) and I would hesitate to recommend it, except for the beauty of its prose and for the fullness of its protagonists.

Oh, and for one other thing: “Blindsight”, in a subtle literary way, reminds us that our actions, big or small, can destroy lives. Other people’s lives. The lives of the people we most care about.

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