He Wants by Alison Moore (Salt: 15 August 2014) Lewis is a retired teacher who is about as pedestrian as they come. There’s more to him than is apparent at first though, and it takes the reappearance of an old class-mate to awaken what’s been below the surface his whole life.
Alison Moore is ace. That’s a fact. Lighthouse was Man Booker Prize shortlisted, and I was rooting for her all the way. She writes simply, but with power. I love how much she balances between the lines, and how she reveals character and plot with subtlety and ninja timing.
All of that jazz is in He Wants too. It’s a delicate and fragile story. The man at the centre of it all has so much internal conflict and complex issues raging on that you can’t stop thinking about him after you put the book down. He’s a real, full, flawed, obscure guy. But Moore doesn’t yell about it. All of it is presented carefully and slowly.
How she achieves such big impact with such small ingredients is a mystery to me, but she does. She bloody well does.
But in the interests of accommodating the wide and diverse audience of GBR (both mum AND dad read this site, occasionally), it’s worth talking about plot. Moore is not a plot driven writer. Very little actually happens in He Wants. It's slow, and the hook is in character and theme rather than plot or storyline.
For me, that’s fine. For me, I still get floored by the rippling meaning and emotion which Moore conjures up. I’m kind of a character/theme guy myself, so I dig Moore’s style. But there’s not the same kind of rich pickings for the plot junkies.
Where does that leave us?
I loved this, and I can see me reading it again and finding more stuff to love, but I worry that it isn’t for everyone, and that holds it back from a biggie.
Next week, I’m on my hols, so no posting. Try not to be too jealous. By-eeee!