Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Lost Narrative

The first half of this 2008 Booker long list contender is engrossing, moving and strong, with a beguiling richness of story-telling and achingly lovely prose. Then Michelle de Kretser's The Lost Dog seems to get rather lost in the Aussie scrub itself. The tropes, the scenes even the authorial voice become repetitive: they tell us nothing new. The reader starts to skip impatiently forward. Interesting characters are introduced then fade puzzlingly into the background. Stasis threatens. From the simple yet crucial perspective of plot, too much remains unresolved, the mother and her failing body, the art gallery owner and his sexual ambiguity, the son and his disputed parenthood, and most of all, the missing millionaire husband, who surely is the real 'lost dog' of the title. Will he too come crawling back bruised and starved, but still wagging his tail? (...or, perhaps, wearing that little black dress?)

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