Thursday, 20 September 2012

Rites - Sophie Coulombeau

Just finished this book that I bought at the new author event in Hebden Bridge.  As you will no doubt recall, I met Sophie at this event (along with Ros Barber and the other featured authors) so got my book signed on the night.

'Rites' is the story of an event and the investigation into it.  The main protagonist Damien (Day) Brady is not very likeable, but is he guilty?  The events are recounted through the recollections of differing characters whose skewed opinions lead to the intrigue, who is telling the truth and who's fault is it?

A masterclass in telling, not showing

As Day's character says on page 103 of 'Rites':

'You remember that English teacher I told you about?  He had a mantra that he'd bellow at us as a supposed aid for our trite creative writing assignments.  It was Show, Don't Tell.  This little mantra has, they tell me, during the last few decades been all the rage at the various costly writing courses that have sprung up in our illustrious nation.  The idea being, I believe, that it is somehow more noble, somehow more generous on the author's part , to allow the reader imaginative space and freedom to construct their own story from a bare framework of factual, sparsely reported events.  The author, current vogue in the literary world dictates, should never preseume to tell the reader anything.  It's up to the reader, the mighty reader with their Waterstones-friendly buck, to decide what they think happened.  The author a la mode is merely there to, I don't know, get them thinking, I suppose.'

Sophie takes this to the extreme in that the reader finds themselves desperate for the 'event' to happen so that they can pick through the evidence to find the truth and that when it does, even from several eyewitness accounts, the truth says more about the morals of the reader than any of the characters.

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