Monday, February 04, 2008

Canuck Book 5

Just finished Richard B. Wright's Adultery. I had actually started out reading Quarrington's King Leary. . . But I got distracted.

I was a big fan of Clara Callan, Wright's breakthrough novel about two very different sisters during the depression. That said, I had shied away from Adultery because, to be honest, I really was not in the mood for such a potential downer of a book. I mean, the plot can easily be broken down like this:

1. Man has affair with much younger colleague while on business trip in Europe.

2. Colleague is abducted and murdered while man sleeps in car after having sex.

3. The killer is arrested the next day.

4. Man tries to deal with the consequences and how they affect his life, his family, his self-image, his career.

Not exactly light reading. I broke down recently, however, and picked up a used copy of the book. I figured it would make a good addition to my Canuck Lit List.

My verdict? It's a keeper. I found myself quickly neglecting the Quarrington in favour of this book. It became one of those books that puts me in danger of missing my stop on the subway. I became wrapped up in this tale of a man struggling with the consequences of a bad decision.

Much to my relief, I found the story stayed away from the heavy handed moralizing that would have been so easy. That's not to say it is not a serious book. It's just that the story is more about consequences rather than actions. We are not forced to make judgements about the protagonist’s actions. We know from the start what happened and we can guess at why.

Instead, the story takes a far more interesting path by laying out what happens next. For Dan Fielding, it is police interviews, unrelenting press and a return to a family just starting to cope with a very private betrayal that has now been splashed across the front page of the Sun and the Star. This is not to mention the looming small town funeral that he is compelled to attend though he realizes he will be far from welcome by most.

The story moves well and it's hard not to have some sympathy for this man. Not for what he did, mind you, but perhaps for the horrible consequences he has had to face. And face it he does, with equal amounts of grace and clumsiness. At the end of it all, there are no happy endings. How could there be? But there is acceptance and guilt and, just possibly, a little forgiveness.

1 comment:

Brown Paper said...

I'm a huge fan of Clara Callan--it was my "big Canadian discovery" for quite a while (the present occupant of the position is No Great Mischief).
But I was really disappointed with Adultery. Inside that novel is a fine short story struggling to get out. I though it was competently written, but no more--to me, it lacked the heart Clara Callan had in such abundance. Maybe I ought to give it a second read?