July 5

Naming The Bones by Louise Welsh (2010 Canongate)

This long-awaited fourth volume by one of the more interesting contemporary writers is yet another deviation from her previous books. It seems everything Welsh sets out to write is a foray into fresh fields, as though each volume completes one journey and paves the way for another. In the current book, Murray Watson, a would-be biographer of a little known Scottish poet named Archie Lunan, tracks his long-dead quarry into the past and makes some startling discoveries. With its emphasis on atmosphere—ruined castles, semi-deserted islands, and even sinkholes—it’s more of a gothic novel crossed with an almost-traditional mystery. Almost, in that a good number of the mysteries are left inconclusive at the book’s end. There’s a bit of fun name-play—Watson, as in the bumbling Dr. Watson, Lunan as in poetic ‘lunacy,’ a mysterious former-mistress named Graves whose secret is literally buried, and even a foe named Baine. Frankly, I would have been tempted to dismiss this book early on if I hadn’t been aware of the incisive intellect behind it. It feels as though someone said to Welsh, “Enough with the brilliance, Louise; how about writing something the rest of us will understand?” I suspect with this book Welsh is heading stolidly toward the mainstream, and no doubt it will take her there, but it may leave fans of her previous volumes bewildered at best and disappointed at worst.

No comments:


All materials on this website copyright 2007 Design by Transform Interactive .\\edia