Reviewed: 2008-08-24 - (Review Updated: 2008-08-25)
Old Story Teller has written a magnificent story.
Poignant as it tugged the heartstrings, yet not syrupy as it elicited empathy. Poignant as it it dealt with distress (and allowed us to share the mood), yet not maudlin as it drilled deeper into the motives. Poignant as it affected their relationships, but not severe as it retreated to rationality.
This story is literature. A finely-written, well-conceived, brilliantly-plotted story. (Yes, a few typos crept in that are more than made up for by the bold use of appropriate and varied vocabulary and sentence style.) It seems at times hard to understand, but give it a few more paragraphs and it becomes clearer. The story seems to want to go one way at times, but no, it's changing directions... oh no, I think it's going the first way... but wait...
An Ordinary Betrayal reminds me of British dramas of the forties and fifties. Between the identity-defying hats the men wore and the hustle and bustle of the railway cars and the (to my American eyes) relatively indistinguishable voices, appearances, and mannerisms of the actors, it was hard for me to keep the plot straight. I had to pay attention to the movie or I would be lost.
So also with An Ordinary Betrayal. I read it after all three chapters were completed; if I had tried them over several days, I might have lost my place--but in the final analysis, it all played out clear and logical and ordered.
In some ways it was like poetry, with oblique references and half-described situations that, unlike much of poetry, were clarified later. It was a wonderful read.
It also reminded me of Film Noir, with its anxious but unemotional, almost flat narrative, punctuated by flashes of rage and passion.
Plot: It's a cheating story, with all the usual suspects. We are told that up front in the blurb. But the manner of the story, its calm and ordinary storytelling, its charming development, its surprising conclusion make a penetrating read.