Wednesday, 11 July 2007

The Weight of Numbers by Simon Ings

I chose two books at random this and Ghostwritten yet both have structures and plots that jumble time, place and character. Spooky or what!

In Weight of Numbers we weave up and down and across time and join and leave life’s entering into hope or its reality. Some characters we follow to the end others we leave. Characters collide in the sixties and their consequences are unravelled in the in the 90’s. African politics is interwoven with the first man on the Moon and Grange Hill stars. Real events and people are seen from the front or from the side with invented characters commenting on them. Each of the characters is engaging, and each of the stories is interesting - ranging from child kidnapping; people trafficking; the loneliness of homosexuality during the War; east African civil war etc.

The writing is beautiful and evokes images of Mozambique on a dusty afternoon or the radical squats of the 60’s. Most stories are told with perfect clarity, but you soon loose track to is who when. And miss reading it for a couple of days and you wander lost. Images stay with you and most sections are good but after a while you wonder what the point of the story is. Having read it I don’t know, unless the point is that the life we have now is not the life we dreamt of or the life we will end with.

Would I recommend it? A reluctant yes but try and read it in one sitting or read it twice: skim to get the characters clear then slowly to enjoy the story.

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