4 Jan 2013

Sebastian Faulks: A Possible Life

How do you select the books that you choose to buy and/or to read? I suppose that I use a mixture of good past experience with that authour, interest in the subject matter (for non-fiction essentially), rcommendations by friends and acquaintances whose opinons I respect, recommendations by librarians (same respect required), and, quite often, good reviews in newspapers or magazines. It was one of the latter that pushed me to buy, during a recent trip to London, the latest book by Sebastian Faulks, an apparently well-known British writer but of whom I must confess that I had never heard. On the strength of what I have just finished reading, I have clearly been missing something, and fully intend to get hold of another of his books whenever I can.

the man (right) and his latest book cover

A Possible Life, which was published in 2012, is not a classical novel in the sense that the five stories it contains are separate and differ both in their setting (time and space) and nature. Faulks also subtly varies his style for each story, enhancing their individual character. Yet one is clearly induced, by their being grouped together, but also by three short lines added on the back cover, to imagine and sense links between them. And the links are those of life, of humanity, and perhaps just a shade of what some might term mysticism, although this is neither a word nor a concept to which I hold many candles.

Here are these lines from the rear jacket cover, and I am curious to know whether they are the publisher's or the author's idea, since they do not appear in the book itself, merely on the jacket:

Every atom links us
Every feeling binds us
Every thought connects us  

I will not tell the stories or anything about them here in case one of you out there might want to read this book and have the full effect of discovery that is, at least to me, so much of the pleasure of reading. I will however give you the titles to the five parts of this book, as I think thay provide some useful clues as to the author's intentions:

Part I). A different man
Part II). The second sister
Part III). Everything can be explained
Part IV). A door into heaven
Part V). You next time

For me the strongest parts by far were I, III and V, although all five parts have their strengths. Part V would stand alone as a novella in its own right, with its 100 odd pages. Faulks has the capacity of placing you in different situations at and different periods, of getting involved with (or not, but for reasons that make you think) his characters, and for telling stories well. I am looking forward to reading some more of his work.

so, read on...