Black Light by Laura Solomon
Jim is a university student and, as the saying goes, he hasn't got his troubles to seek. His father committed suicide when he was young and somehow he's never really managed to connect with his step-father. His younger brother would be kindly described as having learning difficulties: if you were being honest you'd just say that he was very difficult, but Jim does his best with and for him. Jim's in love with a woman, but she finds him repulsive and you can understand why: the looks, the attitude, the (lack of) conversational ability and the clothing all leave a lot to be desired. Despite all that's he's not about to sit back and allow his life to drift: he's actually writing two novels and he reads excerpts from these to his friends in the pub.
|Black Light by Laura Solomon
|Category: General Fiction
|Reviewer: Sue Magee
|Summary: A welcome reissue of a book written when the author was twenty one. It's not an easy read: you'll need to concentrate to follow what's going on, but it's an intriguing story.
|Date: December 2017
|Publisher: Woven Words
|External links: Author's website
There are two major factors playing against each other here. Jim is under a great deal of stress, particularly in his personal life: it's almost certain to affect anyone mentally and he's no exception. The second factor is that it's not unusual for an author's real life to be brought into his novel and one of the first hints of this which we see is Patricia, who is writing to Caroline to remonstrate with her about the frivolous life she's leading with the circus: she should be at home caring for her husband. (She's actually away on a course.) As Patricia's actions escalate you realise that she too is in the grip of mental torment. Then, with a neat switch, the characters in Jim's novels begin to invade his real life.
This is a welcome reissue of a book which Laura Solomon wrote when she was just twenty one. It's a remarkably complex plot with mature insights delivered in just 150 pages, but this does mean that it's occasionally more condensed than lends itself to comfortable reading. I frequently found that I had to reread passages to fully grasp what was going on, but it is worth the effort for the sheer ingenuity of the story, which is well-grounded in the New Zealand landscape.
Character development is more adept in Solomon's later books. Jim stood out for me, as did Patricia, but others were more two-dimensional, a problem complicated by the fact that some of the characters change names and also switch the situation in which they appear.
It isn't the best of Solomon's writing but it's a work of great maturity for one so young and an indication of what's to come.
You can read more book reviews or buy Black Light by Laura Solomon at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Black Light by Laura Solomon at Amazon.com.
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