Tuesday, 31 July 2012

There are many different kinds of uniform

the book:

Rupture by Simon Lelic

published 2010



Price was smoking. Lucia stood closer to him than she needed to. ‘Some weather, huh?’ They were on the top floor, on the terrace behind the canteen. They called it the terrace but really it was a balcony and a bench and an overflowing ashtray. Price gestured to the sky, to the unrelenting blue. ‘Thirty-eight at the weekend, that’s what they’re saying.’ He coughed out a laugh and sucked at his cigarette. ‘You’re lucky you don’t have to wear uniform no more. These trousers don’t breathe. Might as well be made of rubber.’ Lucia considered her own outfit: dark trousers, white blouse. The only difference between Price’s clothes and hers was that she had had to pay for hers herself. ‘Tell me about the Samson boy,’ said Lucia. ‘Elliot Samson.’ Price frowned, puffed smoke.


observations: A smart and absorbing thriller, although not one where you are guessing whodunit or what happened – the setup is a dreadful school shooting, and there is never any doubt about who did it. But Detective Inspector Lucia May wants to find out what led up to it, what was going on in the school. Chapters detailing her investigation alternate with other people’s first person testimony about the incident, the school, and the participants. This is very cleverly done – you have to work out through these ‘transcripts’ who exactly is speaking, and there is a lot of humour and irony in them.

A really impressive first novel, and he does a great job with his female protagonist, no complaints there. And this simple apercu – that women’s office clothes resemble men’s uniforms – is one of many head-nod moments.

Links up with:
This heroine wears black trousers too, but leather ones. What women wear in the office matters here and here, and this man is writing in the first person as a woman in an office.

The picture is a detail from a view of office workers sitting out in the lunchtime sun in Sydney: the photo was taken by Nick-D and can be found
here on Wikimedia Commons.

3 comments:

  1. I too very much enjoyed this novel, and though I don't specifically remember the part about her clothes, it certainly resonates. I found the sexism she endured at work so well-done, I almost could not bear to read it. Often these things are laid on with a trowel but the author got it just right.

    (BTW I really did not like his next two books, so disappointing compared with this brilliant debut.)

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  2. Yes, very much what I thought - so all the more reason to be disappointed, as I'll probably agree with you about his other books, and I had high hopes....

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  3. Moira - Such an interesting focus on the uniform aspect of this exceptional debut. One of the things I liked about it was the way that Lelic handles the human effects of the culture at the school and at May's workplace. It's all the more devastating as we look at how it affects the individuals I think.

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