Monday, 16 August 2010

What I've Been Reading

The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton

The Rehearsal has made me incredibly jealous. Not only has Eleanor Catton crafted one of the finest debut novels I've read in a long time, constantly evolving her story and taking it to places I'd never expect. Not only does it completely rewrite the rulebook as far as dramatic writing and art-house literature (as close a term as I can think of to describe the book). Not only is it laugh out loud funny. But she's also managed to do all this before she turned twenty-five.

The story takes place in an unnamed community, in a small town. The country isn't specified, although Catton herself has lived in both Canada and New Zealand (and it has a particularly British feel to it at times). A sex scandal rocks a local girls school, and when the rumour mill begins grinding, a prestigious drama college decides to dramatise the incident for their end of year production.

Catton presents the story through the eyes of Stanley, a first year student at the drama school; Isolde, the sister of the girl involved in the sex scandal; Julia, a misfit at the girls school; and an unnamed saxophone teacher.

The characters perform very specific parts in the story. This may sound obvious, but the way Catton writes each of them makes it seem that their role in the story, and the cogs they turn, are almost more important than the characters. As though the roles are being embodied by actors, who are only acting the story out in front of us (and at one point, the actors 'playing' some of the girls are switched around, and the characters suddenly seem uncomfortable and slightly unbelievable). Catton frequently breaks the fourth wall, and uses stage theatrics in her writing. The drama school has a conceit whereby whenever one door is closed, another is opened - literally. In another writers hand, it wouldn't work, mostly because they would be too scared to continue using it, but Catton keeps on with it and as such you get sucked in.

The Rehearsal is absolutely amazing, and well worth picking up.

Nathan Sorry

Nathan Sorry is an incredibly creative look at 9/11. It's an online web comic from Rich Barrett and can be found here. So far it's up to the fifty-first page with a page seemingly added every two weeks.

Nathan, the title character is a finance worker who misses his plane to New York on September 10th and consequently is not in his office when it gets obliterated the next morning. Instead of rushing back to pick up the pieces, he takes the opportunity to leave everything behind him and start anew. Luckily one of his work colleagues was defrauding the company they worked in for $2 million, and this money just happens to be lying in an account under a fake name...

The story has just started properly and although Barrett is updating slowly, it's worth getting up to date with it.

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