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18 November 2011

Faulks-ed Up

I like most of Sebastian Faulks's novels, Birdsong and The Girl at the Lion d'Or being my favourites, and I thought it was odd that I hadn't yet read A Fool's Alphabet, but when I was prowling my library looking for unread books to take to Morocco, I happened upon it and took it with me. Slightly embarrassingly, it took me 50 pages to realise that I had, in fact, already read it two years ago. Obviously, then, the opening wasn't that memorable and the two things that I did remember reading before were a) a reference to the protagonist living in a flat on a mansion block off Baker Street (as was I two years ago) and b) two errors, one of which was a misspelling of Bleecker Street in New York, and the other which had a California radio station saying that it was a scorching day with a temperature of 25 degrees--presumably not in Fahrenheit, one would imagine.

I did enjoy the book more on its second read and hope it will be more memorable this time. It tells the story of the life of Pietro Russell, a photographer born in 1950 to a young Italian mother and an English war hero father. Each chapter is named after a different location in the world and they progress through the alphabet--each place represents a story in the chapter of Russell's life, some significant (the meeting of his parents in Italy, for example) and others more random and they are presented achronologically, which I rather like. Having now read One Day, it reminded me in some ways of David Nicholls' book in that we drop in and out of the characters' lives, with much of the detail left to be inferred or discovered later on in the story. It's still not my favourite of Faulks's works, but A Fool's Alphabet is still worth a read.

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