31 August 2010
Gentleman Death by Graeme Gibson
Thoughts and Reflections:
To be honest, I think I'll have to read this one again before providing a comprehensive review. I did enjoy the book, but often felt like I was just keeping up with what was going on. The story flits between the life of an author and two characters with two separate story lines about whom the author is writing. I would just figure what was going on and attach the protagonist to his respective history and the story would flip again. I think this may have to do with my current power of concentration (I am presently house sitting, preparing to move, preparing for an upcoming trip to visit my family, and caught in the general whirlwind of work... So, perhaps my mind is a bit preoccupied at present...). Nonetheless, I am convinced in the ability and talent of the author, Graeme Gibson. To be honest, I initially intended to read his works purely because he is the long time partner of my favourite author, Margaret Atwood. I figured he must have a pretty intriguing mind and no slouch at writing.
The novel depicts the search for meaning in contemporary life, which is juxtaposed against the ever present image and discussion of death. Evidently, meaning in life is greatly influenced by death or mortality. I found this discussion interesting and appreciated that the novel offered no solution to the dilemma. The novel was published in 1993, which, for me, is an incredibly interesting time. Major events of the day, such as the Chernobyl disaster, are used in the discussion of the meaning of life and death. However, despite discussing some rather heavy topics, the novel maintained a light, casual air. The reader was left to interpret the plodding along of the characters without major drama or obvious leading of the reader. Environmentalism was also subtly hinted at throughout the novel.
Graeme Gibson was born in 1934 in London, Ontario, Canada. He has greatly contributed to the literary scene in Canada, notably for his instrumental role in forming the Writers Union of Canada. He has worked as the Writer in Residence at the University of Ottawa and the University of Waterloo. He, as I previously mentioned, is the long time partner of Margaret Atwood, with whom he lives in Toronto.
All in all, I did enjoy the novel, though feel that I will need to read it again more closely to really understand and tap into the themes of the novel