Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd

Just read the first chapter of this book. The past two weeks I have read John Irving’s Last Night in Twisted River and EL Doctorow’s Homer and Langley.

Both those novels rang true to me from the start despite some fairly bizarre or I might say, Garpish, scenes and plot developments. Boyd’s first chapter, while it has a good deal of detailed scene creation and is well written, does not ring true to me. It starts off with an omniscient narrator then switches to a limited omniscient narrator talking about the main POV character.  The last line of the omniscient narrator on page one, “He crosses the road, having no idea how his life is about to change in the next few hours – massively, irrevocably – no idea at all.” I thought is that all you’ve got? And I hate the word cliché.

The main character is British and just returned from some type of extended stay in the United States. He is interviewing for an academic position in London. A minor point, but game changing for me, is that he refers to his cell as a mobile. Maybe he would, but I think just returning from the U.S., he would be calling it a cell. Even if I’m wrong it stopped me, took me out of the story.

I’m wondering if I’ll finish the book. Boyd has won many writing awards, but has no bestsellers.

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~ by jmforceton on July 15, 2010.

One Response to “Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd”

  1. Finished the book, an interesting story, well written. The issue with the mobile versus cell resolved itself in chapter 4 when the main character commented on the subject in the same light.

    Compared to Irving’s Twisted River story, I never found a character in Boyd’s novel I could say I liked the way I did Ketchum or Danny in Irving’s. I think I will remember Irving’s story long after I have forgotten Boyd’s. I think part of this, for me, was the better, more full, characterization of the key players in Irving’s writing. They were more real and more fully understood, more likely to be someone that would be a good friend.

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