Shirley Marr's Reviews > Town

Town by James Roy
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's review
May 26, 11

bookshelves: aussie-ya
Read from May 24 to 25, 2011

I wanted to love this book. As much as I wanted to love "Dubliners" by James Joyce. Both books are much-praised collections of short stories about a small town and they are supposed to paint a complete story when viewed as a whole. There is no doubt that James Roy is a writer of considerable talent. He has a wonderfully realistic, down-to-earth and deceptively simple style of narrative, full of sombre pathos and depth.

As opposed to a novel, which you choose because the subject matter interests you - collections of short stories means that you might be really interested in one or two, vaguely interested in a few others...and be faced with some stories that if they were stand-alone novels, you would never have picked up at all.

It went like this: I loved the opening story. I loved the tale about two cheeky teen boys and I wanted to tag along with them and laugh at some more of their shenanigans, but I was whisked away by the next short story.... but it was all about cricket. Which made me feel as if I really were spending a day at the cricket... which I did once and I went comatose. Rinse and repeat.

Presenting a set of short stories lacks the backbone that say a central story told from mutliple points of view would.

I wanted to skip some stories, but then it would destroy the effect cos the same character would appear later and I wouldn't know their "back story"! I really enjoyed it when the characters intersected with each other, but it didn't quite form the "Town" I was hoping for.

ps - James Roy is this country's most underated writer of... teen girls. He writes the sort of strong, realistic and gutsy girls I want to be friends with. My favourite character by far was Veronica ("The Clearing") and if the whole book was just about her, I'd give it six out of five stars.
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