Sunday, 26 August 2012

Book #74 Skios by Michael Frayn


Another Booker longlister this year is Skios by Michael Frayn. My only previous experience with Michael Frayn was Spies a few years ago, a book I found dull and did not have much time for.

In this story, Nicki who works for academic institution The Fred Toppler Foundation is charged as ever with organising this years lecture. The speaker for this year is to be Dr Norman Wilfred, and we meet him flying in on his plane, a man who does the circuit and is rather bored of it. As Nicki waits for him at the airport, a man named Oliver Fox, bored with his circumstances too, decides on a whim, liking the look of Nicki to claim he is the man she is waiting for, and thus a novel of mistaken identity ensues when Wilfred and Fox effectively switch lives.

On the plus side, Skios is often entertaining and I laughed once or twice, but on the whole it is ridiculously silly, to the point of irritation as the circumstances continue on for far too long than is either believable or necessary, compounded by a slew of other silly misunderstandings as it progresses.

As a reader it is imperative to suspend any issue of  believability in order to in any way enjoy the story, and for me, I felt it was very "lightweight" the kind of thing one might expect from Tony Parsons or John O'Farrell, that kind of comedic "bloke lit" that sprouted up around the time Nick Hornby came on the scene. Because I would describe it as "summer fluff" it surprises me that it landed on the Booker longlist, and this is probably somehow political a nod to the authors reputation rather than the work itself.

Unlike say, previous Booker winner The Finkler Question, it qualifies as a comic novel, because it is in part, actually funny, but the humour becomes samey and irritating.

The problem is it isn't really a great contribution to literature which society would be lost without, ultimately it's all a bit frivolous which makes its inclusion for a big literary prize all the more puzzling.     


No comments:

Post a Comment