Sunday, April 08, 2012

Everything just went on and on and on

Sometimes Michelle tried to remember what it was like before the baby came, when it had been just the two of them and they could lie in bed all day, and have feverish, exhausting sex and then eat toast and jam and watch television on the tiny black-and-white set that they used to have at the foot of the bed until Michelle knocked it over because Keith was watching the snooker (on a black-and-white set, what was the point of that?) and the baby was screaming and she just couldn't do it any more.

She did love them, she really did. She just couldn't feel it.

They weren't bonded together, they were like molecules, molecules that couldn't bond together into stable elements and instead bounced around like bingo balls. She should have done science, not spent all her time with her head in novels. Novels gave you a completely false idea about life, they told lies and they implied there were endings when in reality there were no endings, everything just went on and on and on.

— from Case Histories, by Kate Atkinson.

I'm reading this just a few short months after having watched the television series, and maybe that's too close, as I can't help but see and hear those TV characters as I read. I can't say which was more enjoyable. The TV production was wonderful; the book is perhaps funnier (I laughed out loud) and grimmer. Both are rather punch-in-the-gut — almost unbearably — honest. People are so complicated. Sigh.

I love how all the cases are interwoven. It's not a big city, it's only normal there should be overlap. And because, of course, an investigator doesn't have just one case at a time.

I can't pinpoint why Jackson Brodie is such a sympathetic detective. He's a middle-aged, heavy-drinking fuck-up. That's fairly cliché for a detective. So what makes this guy so special? Have you read or seen Case Histories? What do you think?

I will definitely be reading more Kate Atkinson. And I can't wait to see more TV episodes. I highly recommend both the novel and the televisation.


Kinga said...

Loved both. I read the books first, everything in the Jackson Brodie series, except for the last book, which sits on my shelf. But I loved it and, like you, I'm puzzled why I like Jackson so much. He's quite messed up. But the other characters are brilliant and I love how the stories start out separate and then are intertwined sensitively and beautifully.

The tv series was great, too. Took us a while to realise that we were watching Draco Malfoy's dad! :)

Kinga said...

I forgot to say: I got other Kate Atkinson books (Behind the scenes at the museum, Human Croquet and Emotionally Weird) but I haven't read them yet.

In chats with friends, we think that Jackson Brodie is a bit of a "project". You think you can fix him up. Take him home, give him some soup, be tender with him and he'll turn out ok. And he seems senstive, but unable to help himself.

Isabella said...

Malfoy! Thanks for making the connection for me.

Yes, you think you can fix him up, but on some level I think you know you can't — he'll always be angry, and petty, and troubled, etc. (The fact you can't fix him maybe makes him more human?)

I'll be getting myself some more Atkinson next weekend.