Saturday, 21 February 2009

CASTLE FREEMAN'S COME WITH ME

My review of Freeman Come With Me has been posted at Crime Time, you can link to it here. Although the story moves along somewhat predictable lines, and though some of the characters are telegraphed by their names, it is the quality of the prose, particularly the dialogue, which makes it work. The quality of Freeman's seemingly simple northern New England prose, and the sharpness of the unsaid within his characters' conversations, makes this a formidable work: a modern Deliverance set in Vermont. What it has that Deliverance didn't is humour: and again this is something of the old New England wryness (the kind of irony Americans are not supposed to possess, according to received wisdom in this country) that I first encountered on the page in The Real Diary Of A Real Boy, by Henry Shute, one of my favourite books when I was a child.

Interestingly, one of the dailies (oh, go on, it was the Guardian) reviewed this book and thought Freeman was a woman. That's nowhere near as bad as the guy I heard on Open Book once talking about Flannery O'Conner as a man, but it does show you how fine-tuned his prose is, as well as revealing what critics sometimes assume about such prose. Actually, although the main character is a woman, the narration is pretty obviously in a male, New England male, Vermonter voice.

3 comments :

pattinase (abbott) said...

I thought it was one of the best books I read last year. Just terrific writing.

Dave Zeltserman said...

This is a fine novel, and it's the reworking of an Arthurian tale, complete with giants, dwarves, and dragons. Very clever book.

Michael Carlson said...

That's a good point about the quest motif: I was so taken by the Vermont aspects I hadnt even considered how carefully he sets that up. Thanks...