Jim Crace - All That Follows (2 stars)

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Jim Crace - All That Follows

(Picador)

With a slew of nominations and wins after his name (Whitbread, Booker, Guardian Fiction, National Book Critics Circle) Jim Crace’s latest offering has a lot to live up to. By contrast his protagonist in this near-future tale of political and familial drama does not. A timid middle-aged, saxophone player who has always preferred daydreams of courageous deeds to real-life action, is drawn into the political machinations of a long-lost comrade in this examination of the definition of valour.

Crace’s transparent prose belies the tangled guises of the tragically dithering Leonard and his struggle to do the ‘right’ thing without risking his comfy status quo. Flavoured with jazz terms (hot, cool, hip, blue) that lend unobtrusive colour to the pallid innards of Leonard’s mind, tensions swell and dissipate without ever offering the catharsis of an apex and resolution. The result is akin to a one-note performance rather than a daring virtuoso improvisation.

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