This blog is dedicated to the amazing staff at the New Canaan Public Library in New Canaan, Connecticut.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks, 2009, * * *

In London, three weeks before Christmas 2007, the lives of several characters intersect and intercut each other. With savage accuracy, the story skewers the banking industry and the subprime mortgage crisis while also touching on the evils of Islamic fundamentalism, the British school system, reality TV, role-playing computer games, and critics who delight in giving bad book reviews. The financial explanations are well researched and accurate,  but they slow down the plot.   The main characters are a hedge fund manager trying to pull off the biggest trade of his career and a Scottish-born student led astray by Islamist theory but the other characters, among them a Tube driver, a soccer player, a  book reviewer and a barrister get short shrifted in the novel. I found this book to be unfailingly depressing where all of the characters are either unpleasant or totally obnoxious and it represents a sad commentary on the author's apparent opinion of the greedy, shallow, and class conscious inhabitants of today's United Kingdom. All of this might have been good anti-bourgeois fun, along the lines of recent novels by Jonathan Dee (The Privileges) and Adam Haslett (Union Atlantic) that also feature criminal financiers, if Faulks hadn’t confused the moral calculus by introducing terrorism into the story   In the end, most of the characters and story lines felt like they were added to fatten the book as if a student was trying to satisfy a teacher’s requirement for a 10-page term paper and ultimately the book ends with a thud.  Perhaps, however, there is something to be said for not giving a formulaic ending  - everything continues "as is" despite upheavals in the world and with the characters.

No comments:

Post a Comment