Sunday, 30 August 2009
The People's Act of Love by James Meek
DATE PUBLISHED: 2005 DATE READ: August 2009 NOTES: This is a very unusual book. It is set in the early years of the last century and relates events at the end of WW1 and the beginning of the Russian revolution. The writing is curiously old-fashioned – in fact it reads like a novel translated from Russian. (Dostievsky-lite?) A Czech regiment is stranded in a small Siberian town in 1919 and hoping to get home by going east to Vladivostock. They believe their lives will be in danger from the Reds. A stranger arrives claiming that he has escaped from a prison camp in the north and is being pursued by a cannibal. Also in the town is a group of castrati who believe that this is the only way to achieve true goodness. So we have murder, cannibalism and castration in the story – quite a combination! There are some quite chilling episodes and some brilliant descriptions. Some of the story elements are a bit drawn out and overlong – some judicious editing would have helped. But a very intriguing novel and I look forward to reading more of Meek’s work.