The Lighthouse by Alison Moore is also on the longlist for the 2012 Booker. The main protagonist of The Lighthouse is Futh, a man who in the wake of his separation from his wife has gone on a walking holiday in Germany. Futh alternates chapters with Ester, one of the proprietors, alongside her husband, of a hotel Futh stays in during his journey.
In many ways the novel is an expose of the very great psychological damage parental abandonment can do an individual. During the narrative Futh revisits and revisits the moment his mother told his father he was boring her, vanishing from both their lives.
The disappearance of his mother has defined Futh, whose career centres around recapturing her scent, carrying her lighthouse shaped perfume bottle wherever he goes. His marriage has been damaged by his obsession with her, but too, I felt his wife lacked the decency of compassion to assist Futh in overcoming these issues.
As a portrait of a man, The Lighthouse is almost a hymn to loneliness. Futh is permanently ill-fated, and it shows well that loneliness was almost inescapable for him, the boy alone in the rain on his climbing frame, the boy in the dark in his neighbours kitchen as his father stole his only friend, how lonely boy grows into isolated man. The inevitability of it, it's very well done, if slightly depressing, his anonymity compounded by his lack of first name. Moreover, the knowledge that had he made a human connection with one of two other characters he needn't be alone anymore, compounds Futh as a tragic figure, destined to the kind of fate he meets.
Separately from the plot I loved the lighthouse motif that ran through the novel, from the flashing of torches, to the bottles, to the name of the hotel, very cleverly done and my favourite bit was the description of the storm, a dual description of two separate events.
Alison Moore's debut novel has all the assurance of a veteran, a strong contender for the prize, its sense of despair will either be its making or its undoing 9/10