Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Faulks on Fiction is lively, accessible and informed

Book 23: Faulks on Fiction by Sebastian Faulks

Faulks on Fiction is like nothing so much as auditing a college class taught by your favorite professor about your favorite books.

It is a lively, accessible and informed survey of some of the best known characters in British literature.  My one disappointment in reading it is that I'm not aware of a similar work on behalf of American writers and their creations.

Faulks wrote this series of essays, which he wanted to call Novel People, as a companion to a BBC television series. The book (and presumably the TV series) is divided into four parts -- heroes, lovers, snobs and villains.  The structure isn't altogether necessary and a less obsessive-compulsive reader than I should feel free to read as their interest or whimsy leads them.  

The essays range from long-established characters -- Mr. Darcy, Tom Jones, Pip, Fagin and Emma -- to more current creations such as Chanu Ahmed from Monica Ali's Brick Lane and Barbara Covett from Zoe Heller's Notes on a Scandal.  

Popular literature is also explored.  There's a fascinating essay on James Bond, who is found among the snobs. In 2008, at the behest of the Fleming estate, Faulks wrote a new James Bond novel. His insights on his research into the character and Fleming's style of writing are fascinating.

Any lover of literature is bound to enjoy Faulks on Fiction.  And, like me, they're going to be eager for the TV show.

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