By Victor Lavalle
Canongate – £8.99
Lee Harper’s To Kill A Mockingbird is referred to on a number of occasions throughout this book, perhaps, as if to assemble some sort of connection – regardless of how tenuous. But where Harper’s characters seemed so effortlessly believable and easy to relate to, Victor Lavalle’s appear a little disjointed
To be sure, most of The Changeling’s characters, although relatively convincing on occasion, come across as having to try too hard. Even the name of the prime protagonist, Apollo Kagwa, sounds kind of…well, just wrong.
And the fact that the name is itself, regularly mentioned just a little too often, becomes a little jarring after a while: ”[…] Apollo placed the copy of To Kill A Mockingbird inside. What better place for a find like that than in a magic box? Apollo closed the lid, climbed back up on the footstool, and hid Improbabilia inside.”
Were the character(s) hinted at, or referred to just little more (rather than being constantly pronounced) would have wholeheartedly added to the whole reading experience. If not enjoyment.
Furthermore, having already mentioned the fact that the characters in this book come across as being disjointed, isn’t in any way helped by the fact that The Changeling is inexorably broken up and numbered – no less than every three or four pages.
Thus amounting to one hundred and three sections!
What on earth is all that about?
This may well be ”an epic novel for our anxiety-ridden times,” but unlike the Harper classic, it is severely lacking in both humility and continuity.