It finally happened. The People in the Trees has gone down to a zombie. I’m not that sad, I expected it to be kicked out quite a while ago and I really like Life After Life. I hope it wins tomorrow but I don’t think it will.
I do disagree with Judge Martin’s comments, although I can’t blame him for a difference in taste. For starters, I don’t know what he means when he refers to People‘s ‘shiny exterior’. I actually can’t understand what he’s referring to. I didn’t find anything about People shiny; I found it understated and often gritty with its unlovable narrator and complex themes. I know you’re not supposed to like Perina but he is often dangerously insightful and no one likes agreeing with a (fictional) convicted paedophile. Science and ‘progress’, clash of cultures, relativism, none of these things are easy or shiny. It made the book pretty harsh and conflicted reading for me. And I’m still not going to say anything else about it. I’m just not ready.
Judge Martin also brings up reading order which I think is really interesting. I regularly read books that I’m pretty sure I would like more if I hadn’t read something similar and that little bit better immediately before. Like Judge Martin I read Life After Life right before People and I’m glad I did. People, for me, was the book that cast a pall over whatever came after it. I couldn’t stop thinking and talking about it. Finding out about its real life inspiration just gave it extra emphasis and more relevance and weight, something that came up in the comments.
I do love one thing Judge Martin pointed out:
There are many lines and passages repeated to great effect. Several times within the 500-plus pages, I had that eerie sense of déjà vu. Such a unique sensation. Had I already read this? Why does this seem so familiar? And with that use of language and attention to detail, Atkinson gives us, the readers, that greatest of gifts: we feel what Ursula feels.
That brings us up to the final tonight. I think it’s going to be a win for The Good Lord Bird. I don’t think it will resonate as much in Australia and it certainly hasn’t with the people I’ve tried to sell it to. But I get why people like it and I wish it all the best.