Sunday, May 09, 2010

All That Follows

Picture yourself sitting down with a cup of tea [in England] in front of your television, tuned to CNN's [maybe BBC's?] latest breaking news. There on the screen you recognize the face of the terrorist.
More precisely, his hair. You know this guy.
So you pull up an archived image from the "on-screen toolbar" [the year is 2024 so the technology is there…] and sure enough -- this "terrorist" is an old acquaintance of yours. You haven't seen him for 18 years, but that hair gives him away.
This is exactly what happens to Jim Crace's protagonist in the new novel All That Follows.
Leonard Lessing is a middle-of-the-road jazz saxophonist taking a bit of a breather from the music circuit due to a terrible shoulder injury. He's had his own brief / half-hearted history of social activism, but apparently his friend Maxie Lermontov has continued to be a radical.
Here he is on the tele, holding an entire family hostage in a nearby house.
Intrigued, Leonard joins the throng of media and curious onlookers at the actual scene, and there he discovers Maxie's teen-age daughter, Lucy -- who has made the courageous move [one Leonard was hesitant of doing] of identifying her father to the authorities.
Leonard befriends her and becomes embroiled in her scheme to force her father to surrender before anyone is harmed.
The pre-story is that back in Austin, Texas [2006], Maxie and Nadia [<-- Lucy's mother] along with Leonard, had staged a botched attempt to heckle the then-president of the United States, George W. Bush. At that time, Lucy was still in the gestational stage of life, and Leonard was madly in love with the pregnant Nadia. Now, 18 years on, and happily married to Francine, Leonard must decide how involved he is going to get in the current troubles of the Lermontov family.
The answer is --> he gets very involved.
And in doing so, Leonard discovers more about himself and his relationship with his wife Francine than he ever would have known had he flicked off his television that day, pretending not to see. Not to know.

This book is Crace's 10th novel.
And it is pretty much a "10".
This was a book that I remained engaged in, from start to finish. I found it well-paced, and would note that Crace maintained a reader-friendly grasp of the time frames being discussed. One is not left roaming between Texas and England [which, by the way, contains a lot of deep water to drown in]… he knows where he is going, he knows where these characters have been and where they are now, and you can trust him with that. He occasionally walks you through emotionally-charged avenues far beyond the skeletal synopsis above… which is to say [in disclaimer-like fashion] that the book is much weightier than my light words about it.
It is the third Crace book I have read and enjoyed. Shall not be my last.
Likewise, I encourage you to read All That Follows [or precedes] this one.
For more info, please check this wonderful review
--> HERE.


Stefanie said...

This sounds good. I've got one of Crace's novels on my shelf but I have yet to read it. Looks like I'll probably be adding another one!

Sam Sattler said...

I've read two or three of Crace's novels and enjoyed each of them...looking forward to reading this one. Thanks for the review.

Cipriano said...

Stefanie and Sam:
I encourage you to have a look at this book if you get the chance. It was a real good 'un.