My Revolutions

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Although I've been buying music on line for at least six years, I found the speed with which I went from never heard of My Revolutions to holding it in my hot little hand rather gob-smacking given the fact that I'm still waiting for delivery of a number of on-line book purchases.

Around five on Christmas Eve I was cleaning out the archive when I found an email from VSL (Very Short List), a daily suggestion of items that might be of interest. Since it looked like it might fit in with my Interesting Times (though it'll be a while before I get to discussing sixties radicalism) I took a gander over at Amazon, found there was a reasonably priced Kindle and thought why the hell not?

Then, having finished Keith Richards' Life, feeling inclined to continue exploring iPad as a reading platform, I started reading where, under other, hard copy, circumstances the book may well have been left sitting on the get around to reading these some time shelf.

The reader might wonder about the need for that back story in a book review, but it's there for two reasons. First, it's there so I can use a modified version in an article for Hughesy's newsletter.

More importantly, though I had no quibbles with the book or the reading experience, I have a problem. I can think of at least three people I'd like to lend this book to, but the loan would have to mean I'd be sans iPad for a while. There's probably a way to extract and pass on the text itself, but one of the likely recipients is a decidedly non-digital semi-dinosaur.

The story itself, a lengthy meditation prompted by a couple of sudden and apparently unrelated incidents, unfolds cutting back and forwards through thirty-five years the way such meditations do, and makes for an absorbing read. Not quite in the Le Carre class, perhaps, but not a million miles away from it either. 

As Michael Frame muses and rambles through the back roads of his memories, I found myself absorbed to he point where I finished the story in a couple of lengthy sittings. Of course, in many ways, with an interest in sixties radicalism and countercultural matters I was probably a sympathetic audience, but Hari Kunzru does an excellent job of drawing the reader in through the yes, I can see why things would go that way doorway.

The story opens with one of those milestones that make you pause and look around you, with Michael Frame about to turn fifty as associated festivities are being prepared. He's in what most of us would probably describe as a pretty good place, semiretired and working part time in a second hand bookshop. This lifestyle is funded by his partner Miranda Martin, the emerging entrepreneur behind Bountessence Natural Beautycare, a range of herbal products, who's in the middle of shifting her business onto the big stage.

Those factors would probably have the average individual pondering the changes, but there's more. Miranda's daughter Sam has just moved away from home to study Law, and Michael and Miranda take themselves off to France for a holiday.

In circumstances where you'd be inclined to reflection, a chance visit to a village called Sainte-Anne-de-la-Garrigue, the site of a bloody siege during the Albigensian crusade, has Michael and Miranda sitting outside a cafe drinking mineral water when Michael sights a woman with familiar mannerisms.

That, in itself, would be one of those things you'd probably pass off with an I wonder what happened to? But there are reasons why Michael needs to investigate further, and those matters centre around the fact that the subject of the alleged resemblance died in an embassy siege in Copenhagen some twenty years earlier.


© Ian Hughes 2012