Friday, 26 January 2007

The Service of Clouds bookcover; PicadorReview: The Service of Clouds, Delia Falconer (1997)

The Blue Mountains (west of Sydney). A country apothecary. A ribbon factory. A photographer. Devoid of plot, this book rolls along with the monotony of a Buddhist chant. "It is such a joy to read a novelist who writes with all the precision and exuberance of a poet," writes The Sydney Morning Herald in the back-cover blurb.

But plot cannot reliably be entirely dispensed with. Falconer clearly sees herself as existing firmly in the tradition of Carey and Marquez. She tries hard. Yet we are flung, willy-nilly, from image to image, from sensation to sensation without any story to sustain us in our headlong flight. A relentless series of cogent images berates our lack of sophistication, making us shrink back like some sea creature that sticks to rocks and spurts gouts of brine at the slightest touch.

I felt abandoned by the writer, cast adrift on an ocean of metaphors without a paddle. I read about thirty pages and then gave up, content to consign this 10-year-old effort to the eclectic vagaries of BookMooch.

3 comments:

sink sink socks said...
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Anonymous said...

'Service of the Clouds' was a boring and over-rated book just like its author.

I am a firm believer in arts grants but how Falconer has managed to score well over $200,000 for such a poor and skimpy output provides LOTS of ammunition for those who want to abolish grants.

(No, I'm not a jealous writer just someone who supports Aussie writing.)

Lyn said...

I'm with you on Falconer and clouds. Tried it three times, furthest I got was half way, ever found that it repaid my time / attention.