Friday, April 01, 2011

Two Swell Imitations and an Agony of Choice: My March Pick of the Month

I had two favourite books in March this year, and the difference between them is great in many ways. What they have in common is their imitative style: Gilbert Adair's The Act of Roger Murgatroyd (review here) borrows from Agatha Christie and Colm Toibin's The Master (review), about Henry James, aptly captures the soft and introspective feel of many older novels.

For sheer and base enjoyment, Adair certainly wins hands down. The Act of Roger Murgatroyd is the book to take on holiday, to read on the airplane, or to pick up after a hard day's work. Adair's novel is a masterpiece of detective fiction. On the other hand, The Master strives for elegance and in many places achieves a things of beauty: his novel left me a little haunted by the story of a man I've mostly overlooked in literature and about whom I'd--now--like to know more. So while the part of my brain that reads Shakespeare (and his critics) all day is screaming at me to send The Act of Roger Murgatroyd to every detective-story-loving friend I have, for sheer and simple beauty, Colm Toibin's The Master wins out.

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