He was met on the top landing by a slight, dandyish and bespectacled man of around thirty. He had wavy, shoulder-length hair and wore jeans, a waistcoat and a paisley shirt with a touch of frill around the cuffs.
‘Hi there,’ he said. ‘I’m Christian Fisher. Cameron, isn’t it?’
‘Cormoran,’ Strike corrected him automatically, ‘but—’
He had been about to say that he answered to Cameron, a stock response to years of the mistake, but Christian Fisher came back at once: ‘Cormoran – Cornish giant.’
‘That’s right,’ said Strike, surprised.
‘We published a kids’ book on English folklore last year,’ said Fisher, pushing open white double doors and leading Strike into a cluttered, open-plan space with walls plastered in posters and many untidy bookshelves. A scruffy young woman with dark hair looked up curiously at Strike as he walked past.
observations: Should be read with earlier entry on the book.
This book was one of the sparks for my Guardian piece on disastrous dinner parties. Amongst the many featured meals, the one in this book was unusual in that the blame for the direness of the event could be laid entirely on one person: the hero, Cormoran Strike.
I complained about him before: He is completely selfish. The dinner party has been organized for him by his sister, for his birthday. Strike behaves appallingly from start to finish, but still feels hard done by, and says his sister is ‘fundamentally unimaginative’. Yes, and compared to whom? Even Galbraith mentions the possibility of Strike’s being viewed as arrogant and deluded.
But still, this is an enjoyable book.
Rowling is a very good writer – there was a rather snooty attitude to her from some people in the Harry Potter days, apparently just because she was a best-seller. But you would rarely catch her out in grammatical mistakes, weird punctuation, linguistic infelicities: then and now. And that is vanishingly rare these days – at all levels. Whenever I either praise or criticize such matters, there is a lot of ‘well it’s the editors’ in response. But I’m not at all convinced – there is so little evidence of any editing or correcting going on, and in the end I think you can tell if a writer has an ear for language and grammar. Rowling sooo definitely does.
There is a nice phrase when the central writer is described as producing 'magical-brutalism', and then there's this:
If you want life-long friendship and selfless camaraderie, join the army and learn to kill. If you want a lifetime of temporary alliances with peers who will glory in your every failure, write novels.There is a neat discussion of modern morals: ‘A sleek leather messenger bag was slung diagonally across his chest, large enough for a clean shirt and a toothbrush. Strike had seen these so frequently of late that he had come to think of them as Adulterer’s Overnight Bags.’
There is a short look at the world of blogging - very well-done, more of that would have been good. I thought Galbraith's earlier book (The Cuckoo's Calling) read like a book about the 1970s - not in a bad way - but that accusation couldn't be made about this one.
The picture is from the Library of Congress, of a publishing office in Detroit at the beginning of the 20th century.
You can reach entries on the previous Galbraith book, and on Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, by clicking on the labels below.