Thursday, February 11, 2010

Access Road

I’ve finished reading Maurice Gee’s 'Access Road'. As usual I enjoyed the prose. Gee cracks the pace along and sets the scenes well with his capacity for giving the feel of a place. But the story. The sense of hidden violence that lurks underneath it all is extremely well-crafted, crackling with credibility.

That’s my problem. I don’t want to put prospective readers off. Indeed I would say it’s amongst my must-read books. But Gee has dwelt in this territory throughout his novels. I think 'Crime Story' is greatly under-rated And 'Plumb' is one of our best novels. It overcomes the bleak and grim nature of most of the other novels.

Our pakeha male literary scene is littered with this puritan sense of sin and doubt and so much comes back to sex. It seems a sort of fetish. I ask where is the celebration and joy of existence. Passion can be a productive as well as a negative force. Time after time in our writing some childhood experience blights the person’s whole life. I don’t deny the existence of evil. But please don’t deny its opposite. Though maybe I’m being unfair. Milton’s 'Paradise Lost' springs to mind, Satan more interesting than God. But somehow the 'here and now' is betrayed by things that happened in the 'past'.

Where Gee excels in this book is the quiet comedy of the narrator’s life with her husband. Their courtship, the ups and downs of their relationship, the acceptances of each other’s idiosyncrasies and foibles are touchingly presented. There was a full story here.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a good book. I’m pleased to have read it.

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