Jim's Reviews > The Cradle

The Cradle by Patrick Somerville
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's review
Oct 15, 2009

it was amazing
Read in September, 2009

The Cradle is full of surprises. On the surface, it doesn’t have a lot to recommend it. It’s a shaggy dog tale that is essentially a glorified road trip. And if you take a look at the pieces of the story it does all kinds of things that go against the grain. I took a craft class with Mary Akers this summer and she presented examples of fiction that break the rules of the established order. Somerville’s The Cradle would make a great case study:

1) Road trip: A series of scenes takes the place of a plot

2) Roving eyeball: Multiple perspectives, multiple locations, multiple time periods, i.e. the reader is always asking Who is this? Where are we? When are we?

3) Orphans: It’s easy to flesh out a character’s background when they don’t have one.

4) Writers: Whether it’s a case of self-love or loathing, writers love to hate on books about writers, (yet we keep reading and writing them…).

These aren’t really examples of “breaking the rules” but of a writer taking steps that so many writers have already taken and stumbled over (and stumbled badly) that it becomes something of a high wire act.

What makes The Cradle so remarkable is that Somerville doesn’t stumble or stagger, he soars. He’ll hook you with the premise and then make you fall in love with his characters so that by the time you reach the end you’ll want to read it again just to see how the hell he pulled it off.

And he does it in exactly 200 pages.

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04/08/2016 marked as: read

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