Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Appearance and disappearance

'The Sudden Appearance of Hope' by Claire North was a weird book. I think that is its defining quality. Hope has this quality of 'being forgotten', not just 'not memorable' but that, moments after leaving her presence, people have no recollection of ever meeting her. It makes life quite hard, as you might imagine, so her life has become a little unconventional. Living by stealing and gambling means she has become part of a subculture that includes the criminal underworld. When a young woman she considers a 'friend' commits suicide she blames it on the insidious 'Perfection' app that is taking over people's lives, and she becomes involved in a plot to destroy the app. I think Claire North is trying to write a book for the iPhone age, and as someone who doesn't own a smartphone I found it hard to care that much. It was a really long book that went round in circles, with the recurring fact of Hope being forgotten by everyone she meets as a tediously repetitive feature of the narrative. I persevered with it because ... well to be honest I just stared at the pages for a bit then turned them. Are we really all being programmed by phone apps to be and buy what is fed to us? I don't know anyone like that. I liked this bit about Manchester:

"I took the train to Manchester. Straight streets between stiff, industrial architecture. Short cathedral tucked in between shopping mall and roaring traffic. Museum dedicated to football, galleries from warehouses, town hall snaked around with trams, stone columns, red brick, not enough trees, crossing the canals at the lock gates, clinging to the black iron handles as you edge, one foot at a time to the other side. The screech of the railway lines, the cyclists ready to pedal through the Pennines, is this home?" (p.326)

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