Monday, November 25, 2013

Blowing Back To Town

Picked out a book from the never-ending stack of 'unread' and grinned at the price tag- INR399; ~ S$8. unbelievably cheap, by our standards, especially when our stores sell them for like S$19 a book. The man went ballistic at the stores in India and had lugged back plenty of books from his two trips up to Delhi and Mumbai this month.

I don't always share the man's reading preferences. Needed to sift through to find something of a genre I would read. This one is 'Stonemouth' by Iain Banks. (Reviews here, here and here.)

The protagonist is twenty-something Stewart Gilmour who's living in London and just got back to fictitious Stonemouth, north of Aberdeen in Scotland, after being chased out of town five years ago by crime family- the Murstons. The rival family is the MacAvetts. Ironically, he was back at the funeral of patriarch Joe Murston, by the family's invitation. The first word of the novel opens the story and sets the tone. "Clarity". The protagonist was seeking clarity.

There's of course a girl in the picture. She's Ellie Murston, someone Stewart used to like, cheated on, and is still fond of now. She's the girl whose father is Donald Murston, the man who ran Stewart out of town. The fact that he's named Donald, and referred to as 'Don' for short in the story is quite hilarious. Don. Heh. But luckily, this isn't totally a story about Stewart and Ellie's romance.

There's that suspension bridge in Stonemouth where many committed suicide. That could also be the metaphorical bridge for everything the characters in the novels do. Switch sides, make choices, travel, journey, find themselves, relive past glory, re-write past regrets, whatever. Pretty much nothing has changed in the town since Stewart left, but he, has changed.

Actually I did think of hiring something bigger at the airport, something people would be impressed with as I swept into town, and I was all pumped up to get a Mondeo at least, maybe even a Jag or something, but then I thought that might look a bit too flags in the circumstances. I'm not really rich yet, though I get to live like I'm rich, on expenses and with a mortgage on the flat in Stepney. Plus there's that thing about flaunting it; people are still a bit old-fashioned about a lot of things, frankly. Plus I had to think about what people like the Murstons might think if I looked like I was rubbing their noses in how I'd landed on my feet after getting run out of town. Mr M especially. Five years ago this would never have occurred to me, but I'm mature now. 

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