still on the fence

Many of my friends rave about Timothy Findley, and I'd never read any of his books, so I decided to give it a whirl. Oh, I had read Not Wanted on the Voyage, but everyone tells me that it isn't representative of his work. So I marched into my favourite second-hand bookstore, and checked out their CanLit section to see what they had. Not much, as it turns out. But I picked up Headhunter and prepared to be amazed.

Hmmm. Can't really say I was amazed, and I'm not sure why. It has all the elements that usually guarantee I'll enjoy a book : engaging characters, intriguing plotlines, strong imagery, etc... And I didn't lose interest halfway through, which sometimes happens. No, I just didn't connect with the book, somehow. Maybe it was due to the fact that many of the plotlines that engaged me were left mostly unresolved. I'm not overly fond of ambiguous endings, and although the loose ends in Headhunter were not left dangling to the point of driving me to distraction, there was enough ambiguity concerning the fate of some major characters to make me uneasy.

Which is slightly ironic, considering one of those characters believes she herself can call characters from the pages of books and let them loose upon the world. In fact, in the first chapter, she frees Kurtz from Heart of Darkness. Of course, Marlow isn't far behind and a showdown is inevitable.

I must say that I was impressed with certain things. The use of perception in this novel is brilliant, as different situations highlight different facets of personality. Findley startles his reader while presenting them with inevitables - not an easy task.

But ultimately, I found the book to be a little uneven, almost as though Findley couldn't decide what kind of book he was writing. Is it a thriller? A mystery? A psychological study? Normally, I don't mind a fusion of style, but in this case, I felt the effect was fragmented, not harmonious. I am willing to try another of his novels, but my expectations this time will be much lower.

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