Friday, 2 March 2012

Capital moment

capital I'm reading that John Lanchester novel called Capital at the moment. It's about people who live in a London street and how their lives are separate but intertwined.

I originally downloaded it from Amazon, after it came up as a plausible (to me) recommendation. That was before I noticed the huge marketing that the book seems to be getting, with a full back page advert in the newspaper the other day and an interview with Lanchester on Newsnight.

My motives were somewhat simpler for buying it, it was about London and originally I thought it was about an ordinary street called Pepys Road, which I imagined to be something like the North London Victorian Road I'd once lived in.

There's an immediate difference that this street's houses have all done rather well and are now worth silly money, despite the collection of 'all walks of life' characters assembled to drive the various plot lines.

There's Roger the banker, Freddy the (Senegalese) footballer. There's an anonymous artist and a corner shop run by the Kumars, sorry, the Kamals. Throw in a political refugee as a traffic warden and we almost have that card game complete. Who has got Zbigniew, the Polish plumber?

We had builders, postmen, teachers, the man who owned huskies, a Greek restaurant owner, a security alarm firm and shop assistants as neighbours in our version of the story. Before we got robbed. Twice. So we left.

I'm only part way through the novel at the moment but starting to get a feeling that the ensemble are there to play their relevant parts in a slightly predictable and caricatured way. A sort of distant pair of tweezers picking through scraps of humanity. Perhaps that is the point, but the background premise around London 'doing alright' despite the banking crisis and still the place people want to 'come to' rather than 'escape from' could be explored with more vigour.

It'll be a race against time for me now though, because such is the marketing and media interest that yesterday evening I heard it being advertised as next week's "Book at Bedtime" on Radio Four.


Imaginography said...

I got into a reading hiatus for quite a while after my MBA. It seems that 4 tears of reading business texts put me off and I also never had time. I lost the joy of reading. To remedy this I started rereading some bo0ks I enjoyed in the past and so far have got through 5 since Christmas! I hope you enjoy the book :)

rashbre said...

Imaginography I know what you mean about reading.

It can also be somewhat erratic with me, based upon where I'm travelling and similar. A train or plane ride is one of the best times for some reading, but nowadays I keep a Kindle nearby which means I'm never short of a good book or two!