Wednesday, 28 April 2010

An Attempt at a Book Review...

My apologies for not having blogged for nearly a whole month! I can't quite believe it myself, or indeed believe how busy I have been to justify this terrible lack of enthusiasm towards writing. And for shame, it is not because I have been busy writing elsewhere.

It occurred to me on the train to work the other day that perhaps I could branch out from theatre reviewing. As I know next to nothing about art, except from whether it is aesthetically pleasing, and love too many of the crappy films slated by critics, I decided to try my hand at a book review. This is typical of me - to turn something I love into work, but whenever I finish a book, if the book is good, I always feel a wave of sadness wash over me in the knowledge that it is over. This way, I get to tell people about it, so here it goes...

'One Day' by David Nicholls

David Nicholls, best known for 'Starter for Ten', has created a cleverly structured and all round interesting concept with 'One Day'. The story follows Emma and Dexter, two friends who meet after graduation and spend the next twenty years in each other's company. We meet the pair, sometimes simultaneously, sometimes apart, on one day of each year from 1988 until 2008 until the story comes to its natural end. In this respect the story doesn't drag, nor does it cut short where you wished it would continue; the framework within which Nicholls writes is a wonderful technique for providing the audience with a unavoidable connection to these characters.

The characters themselves, more casually referred to by each other as Em and Dex, couldn't be more different, and yet compliment each other so brilliantly. The depth in which these characters are created is ingenious in drawing the reader in; one feels at various moments throughout that you can relate to Em, Dex or both, in their quest to fulfill life expectations. In Emma's case, these are self-inflicted aspirations to 'change the world'; fighting for what is right which includes not paying for a hair cut and wearing dodgy NHS glasses. For Dexter, whilst he feels the pressure of his parent's expectations, he goes through life grasping at success for being 'cool'; fame and money drives his life and often the wrong way. The pair are perfect for each other and yet fail to see it for the majority of the novel. There is a certain (sexual) frustration to this for both characters and reader, which is only aided by the often disruptive nature of the book; the cliff hangers are infuriating at times and often left unresolved- one craves the knowledge of the 364 days that bridge each chapter. Nevertheless, one does get a full sense of a life lived and at least Nicholls stays true to his structure, choosing the same day every year, no matter how menial and dull that day is for one of the characters.

The significance of such a magnificently crafted book is most felt when reaching the end. I certainly felt greatly upset by the story coming to a close, whilst finding myself questioning my own life in relation to the circumstances explored. Nicholls writes so true to life with such a natural flare that I found myself easily absorbed by the story from beginning to end; I eagerly await his next masterpiece.