Die Dancing, by Jonathan Gash

This is a "Clare Burtonall" book. Clare is a doctor working for a charity which gives help to some of less attractive members of society, who has started booking Bonn, a "goer", for sex. Bonn works for a criminal organisation which has its fingers in many pies, although mostly what we hear about is the prostitution. At the start of the book, a man who turns out to have links with Clare's ex-husband is murdered, and shortly after that another "goer" at the agency starts receiving death threats.

I think that precis is fairly accurate, but what's wrong with it is that it makes it sound like the book is interesting. It's not. This was one of the weakest things I've read for some time - I persevered until the end because I assumed that there would be some resolution which would unify the different mini-plots in the book somehow. Well, plots is too strong a word really: while there were some dramatic events in the book, most of it was rambling stuff where the author was presumably trying to say something about the way that the characters justified their activities to themselves.

I think that the book was trying to make a point about attachments, and using Clare's obsession with Bonn as a way to do this. But I found her interest in him completely unbelievable, as was the description of the "agency" he worked for. The author evidently thinks Bonn is an interesting character: all the women clients want to book him; he's scrupulously polite and attentive, but at the same time bemused about the whole business of sex. But he was just implausible.

Each chapter in the book was prefaced with a definition, e.g. "goer - a man who is paid for sex". While some of these definitions were genuine, I think most of them were made up. In any event, the fact that they were there jarred: if you're going to make up words and use them, I think it's better that the reader infers their meaning from context (like in Clockwork Orange).

One glaring example of an implausible invention was that of "Mogga Dancing" (sp?). In the book, this is a kind of dancing where the dancing style changes every six bars of music (foxtrot and waltz were mentioned). This would presumably mean the tune (or at least rhythm) would also need to switch every six bars. Does this sound like something you could really do? Or would want to? I don't think so (although I'll probably find out now that it does exist after all).

Anyway, no more Jonathan Gash for me.

Completed : 27-Jan-2007 (audiobook)

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