Wednesday, 9 June 2010

MINI REVIEW: THE SECRET SCRIPTURE

Rather enjoying this at the moment. Could be that I’ve finally finished reading 600 short stories for appraisal, and so fiction is purely self-indulgent once again. Or it could just be that it’s very good. Barry’s beautifully lyrical style reminds me of William Trevor, the prose masterfully woven, the poetic language almost a character itself. The two voices in the novel – gently elegiac, disquieting, haunted – are instantly compelling and convincing, and within a few pages you happily submit to them. Another comparison with Trevor, for me, is the exposition’s obliquity, perhaps not for everyone, but I love when a writer allows me space to move around, to form my own judgements and interpretations, as fragments of stories jostle for my attention. Phrases, in Barry’s hands, are by turns elegant and devastating, often demanding the eyes return to the start to confirm the words’ power, or merely to savour their resonance and effect/affect again. A hundred pages in and I sense a classic brewing.

I’ve not read any of his other work, but a quick trip to Amazon will resolve that.

6 comments:

Valerie O'Riordan said...

I've had this sitting at home for a year now, and I haven't touched it - maybe I'll bump it up the queue now!

TOM J VOWLER said...

Tis a good un, V. (And many congrats on all your recent literary success.)

Rachel Fenton said...

Going to get it now I have some reading time and have abandoned the first three on my to-read pile at the half way point!

eimearryan said...

Love this book! Will be interested to hear what you think of the ending - it's polarising. (I liked it.)

TOM J VOWLER said...

Hope you enjoy it, Rachel.

Now that's piqued my interest, eimearryan.

TOM J VOWLER said...

The ending felt risky here, even once I saw it coming, I couldn't quite believe the author was going to do it, but he did, and I think he just about gets away with it. I maintain it's some of the most beautifully crafted prose I've read.