Radiance by Louis B Jones
|Radiance by Louis B Jones|
|Category: Literary Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: I'm in two minds about this book - the protagonist annoyed the hell out of me and not in a good way, but the writing is sublime.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 240||Date: May 2011|
|External links: Author's website|
Mark Perdue took his daughter, Carlotta – or Lotta, as she's known – on an indulgent fantasy weekend in Los Angeles. Lotta and some other teenagers were going to live the celebrity lifestyle for a few days, with gigs, recordings and stretch limos to ferry them around. Mark's got problems of his own. He was an eminent physicist but illness has taken its toll. His wife is still suffering the emotional effects of a late-term abortion – the family called the foetus 'Noddy' – and Lotta can't reconcile how she feels about the loss of her unborn sibling, even going as far as to say that she would have given up the next ten years of her life to look after the child. And Mark? Well, on the tarmac at LAX it dawns on him that a heart attack would be a convenient way out of everything.
I hate it when I'm in two minds about a book – and I am here. The downside for me was the character of Mark Perdue who analyses everything, even the dust on the ground as he walks to try and extract Lotta from a difficult situation, and it annoys the hell out of me. I wanted to tell him to live life, not to reduce it to its constituent parts. I wanted him to BE something. I know – it's completely personal and subjective and I really should know better, but he got to me!
OK – that's the crossness and frustration out of the way. The writing is incredible. Someone told me that they would have every word of it tattooed on their forehead and I can sort of see that. There isn't a wasted word and as you read you feel that the book has been crafted out of fine material. It's character- rather than plot-driven – which increases my sense of frustration but if I put Mark Perdue aside (and, oh, I so wanted to!) there are some other good characters. Lotta is a delight in the way that she goes on this fantasy vacation to make a recording (musical talent not required, promises the brochure) and then realises just how futile the exercise really is.
There's Bodie Lostig too. He's Lotta's newly acquired paraplegic boyfriend and with every word he speaks you're going to wonder about him. He's sixteen, possibly has a terminal illness and he's there, in Los Angeles on his own. The more you read about him the less you can understand why he's there at all – and I'm still not certain whether or not that's a strength or weakness in the book.
I'll admit it. I can't give you a clear steer on this book. Some people will love it and I suspect some will hate it. But either way, I don't think you'll waste your time in reading it. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
If this book appeals then you might also enjoy Sunnyside by Glen David Gold.
You can read more book reviews or buy Radiance by Louis B Jones at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Radiance by Louis B Jones at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.