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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Angel Rock by Darren Williams

Angel Rock by Darren Williams
Harper Collins, 2002

"Angel Rock is a fabulous novel of revenge and redemption, coming of age and coming to terms, of love, loss and yearning, and of trying to find your way home." So says the back cover and I agree.

This book is a compelling story well told. The characters are believable and the setting, Australia 1969, portrays a less sanitised life, a raw and more dangerous life, than most of us are used to in the twenty-first century. It is a beautifully crafted story that I found hard to put down, even when tired at the end of a long day.

I believe that a well told story can redeem poor writing, but good writing will not make up for a poorly told story. This book was an example of the former; I enjoyed reading it despite poor writing and, by implication, poor editing.

The opening sentence of this book was a whopping forty-eight words long and the second sentence was written as follows:

"The footpath was baking hot and the grass on either side of it full of bindi-eyes and no easier on his bare feet and his progress was punctuated by spells of hopping to recover from one or the other." I stopped and read it again, and a third time. Then gave up and moved on. The book was full of such bad construction and I soon gave up trying to decipher each one and just read through them to maintain the flavour and rhythm of the story.

The other problem was the dialogue - it was well written and believable but appallingly attributed; it was as though either Mr Williams or his editor didn't believe in attributions and deleted them at every opportunity. The result was strings of short pithy dialogue where, as a reader, one had no idea which character was saying what. Again, in order to maintain the flow of the story, I had to stop trying and simply move on.

How much of the subtlety in this story I missed due to poor writing and poor attribution, I have no way of telling, though I suspect that it may be quite a bit. Nevertheless, this story was ultimately a good read and one that I am glad to have spent time with. If the writing had been better, it would have achieved 4.5 stars but, as it stands, it really only qualifies for 3.5 and a "Should try harder" comment for both writer and editor.

Posted by fordy at 8:29 AM
Categories: About writing, Reading, Reviews