02 October 2012

The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes

I read The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes at the recommendation of my friends, and I have to say it was an enjoyable read.  It was very much in the vein of a Sherlock Holmes adventure, and yet had a sort of tongue-in-cheek sensibility which was thoroughly modern.

My reading of the book was spread out over several weeks - quite a long time for me - because it was interrupted by a week of "reading deprivation," which was a requirement of my progress through The Artist's Way, a 10-week program with the goal of improving one's creativity.

Anyway, the interruption made the read a bit disjointed, but I think I remember it well enough to share some thoughts...

First of all, I thought the characters were very interesting, both familiar and new at the same time.  Since I've been doing a lot of reading of Sherlock Holmes lately, it's hard not to draw comparisons.  Edward Moon, the protagonist of The Somnambulist, is certainly cut from the same cloth as Holmes; his companion, the titular Somnambulist, on the other hand, is quite different from Watson: he is mute, mysterious, and perhaps most importantly, we never view the story through his eyes as we do Watson's.

The antagonist of the story - who must of course be unnamed, to avoid spoilers - was a rather interesting character, and provides one of the great surprises of the story, as well as (for me) one of its largest laughs, when Edward Moon fails to quiver in fear at his foe.

The vision of London that Barnes presented in his book, on the other hand, is quite different from Doyle's; it's much seedier, and yet also more intimate, treating the city as another character in a way that Doyle never did (at least in the books I've read).  Indeed, London as an entity is at the very heart of the story.

I guess I'm kind of rambling.  I find it hard to put my thoughts together on the story, other than to say that I liked it.  I'm running on not-a-lot of sleep right now and that might be making me sound stupid, too.

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Books: Reading Gathering Blue, which finally came from the library.

Bottles: Drinking a Spanish red whose name I can't remember right now.  It's from Rioja, and sad to say I am not enjoying it very much, but maybe it will be better tonight.

Writing: Still entrenched in the fourth draft, but feeling better in many respects on its direction, especially the second half.

Guitar: Doing the Christopher Parkening method to study classical technique, plus taking a look at "Wearing the Inside Out."