Monday, July 23, 2012

Capital, by John Lanchester

The Economist published such a gushing review of this novel about a street in London that I ran out and had it delivered to my Kindle. The old "newspaper" led me to believe that this was gonna be the novel that really drew in the full scope of the financial crisis, really dug down and made whole the many intricacies and contradictions of the period.  In truth, it did not, though there was a lot in there about real estate and materialism and all the other stuff that characterized oughts and its not-so thrilling climax. We'll need to wait for Richard Ford or Delillo or someone to bring us The Novel of the Crisis.

But that's OK. Lanchester in fact does something perhaps better.  He populates the book with a bunch of engaging characters you can like and mostly care about.  Not all of them are fully "round" in the Forsterian sense of the term, but that's OK too.  There are a fair number of them, and not even 600 pages in which to develop them.  It's a fine novel, and by the end there are enough of the characters you like that you just want to see things work out for them, or at least most of them.  And Lanchester wraps things up pretty nicely, perhaps too neatly in some sense, but who cares. It's a good read, light enough for the beach, weighty enough for the shelf.

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