Didn't have high expectations for this, but I found myself chuckling to myself from the start. The way Graham Joyce writes I can really identify with and he doesn't follow a formula. He takes you on a journey with you, and I am with main characters all the way. Doesn't try to be deep and mystical in a highbrow way but does get you thinking and identifying in a real down to earth way. Have just finished reading it, the only criticism I have is the slightly cheesey ending that feels as if he ran out of steam and wanted to finish it quickly-but the ending it is only a few pages long, so I can live with that....Continua
Dan Innes is a father, his two children, Phil and Charlie are young adults, independent, wilful, detached. Somewhere along the way he lost the connection with his kids, more recently he lost a connection with their mother. Now, with books as his only friend, he plays weekly trivia with a group of people he doesn’t like, and pool with a man he hardly knows. That’s just how he likes it.
When he receives word that his daughter, Charlie, is in Chang Mai prison, Thailand, for opium smuggling, he sets about going to save her. He intends to go alone, but Mick, his trivia and pool partner (and self-proclaimed best friend) buys himself an air ticket and a seat next to Dan. Phil, a fundamentalist Christian, once told of his sister’s situation wrings his hands and prays to God. He declines the invitation to join his father, claiming responsibilities to his ministry, his congregation, his faith. Dan is unimpressed and tells him so.
Several days later, all three men board the plane, Mick and Dan seated together, Phil at the back with his bible and devil talk. Phil gives no indication of what changed his mind, in fact, he says very little. Mick, on the other hand, is loud and obnoxious, making fart jokes and flirting with the air-hostesses. Dan seeks distance from both men with a selection of library books by authors with opium addictions. He tries to understand his daughter’s descent, how she turned from a sweet child into a nose-pierced, Oxford-educated, societal vagrant… and now a drug mule. He finds no answers in the books, and soon enough he and his maligned companions are in Chang Mai, a seething bustle of glitter and debauchery, sex-workers so desperate that they cling like the sweat on Dan’s skin. Phil, convinced he has entered Hell on earth, near comes undone, Mick revels and Dan struggles with nausea and fear.
The prison visit with his daughter is a welcome relief to the agony of waiting, but it brings an unpredicted twist that throws Dan off-balance. Mick takes charge, revealing the depth of his friendship, while Phil teeters on the brink of spiritual meltdown.
This marks the beginning of Dan’s journey to reconnect with his children. In the jungles of Thailand, amongst poppy fields, ancient tribes corrupted by western ways, a culture he can barely understand, and companions who love him more than he knows, Dan learns about family, about love, friendship, sacrifice and fatherhood. There are glimpses of the supernatural, a study into the relationship between adult men, humour so dry that I laughed out loud, and uncertainty so real that my nerves scraped against the brittleness of it.
Graeme Joyce writes beautiful prose that brings the senses alive. Reading this novel in late-winter, Australia, I felt the suffocating closeness of high humidity, the jangled fear and perilous danger these men are put in. The novel is unpredictable, the pace not too fast to lose the depth of the story, but fast enough to keep the reader buoyant and turning pages.
Dan is such a rich character that it’s impossible not to empathise with him. He’s flawed, harsh and misguided, intelligent in mind, rich in soul, stunted in heart. Mick and Phil are frustratingly lovable, so flamboyantly unique that their hearts beat upon the page. Charlie is misguided but inspirational. Saving her life is the focus of this book, but it’s not the journey -- it's far richer than that....Continua