But to resume: finding myself (not for the first time in my life) the tail-end stooge, I thought I might put aside my desire to review the book for a while yet in order to hit the blogosphere with it when the intial excitement had died down. In fact, it was just beginning to dawn upon me that this might never happen, that Living With the Truth might become a web phenomenon, when, Lo and behold, I hear that Jim has dished out a blog award to me. Naturally, I would want to say a word or two about that, so putting those two developments together, it seemed now might be a good time after all to rush into print with my review.
The award first - of course! My initial reaction was much like Jim's: a certain concern that the method of making the awad - i.e. the blogger having been given the award, then chooses up to five further blogs to be awarded - has the potential, eventually, to award everyone and make the award itself meaningless. My instinct was to suppose there should be some criteria at least, on which the choice is based. That's the professional coming out in me, I am afraid. I was overlooking the traditional amateur nature of the web, which is in fact one of its strong points. Being given a commendation by someone whose judgement you rate highly is in no way inferior to be awarded it by a committee ticking all the boxes. This one has come down to me via Jim (see his Kick-Ass Blogger Award post) and Cataherine at Sharp Words, so the pedigree is as good as it gets - which means I now have to contemplate choosing a blog or blogs, a task I fancy I will not find easy. Not because of their rarity value, but because there is no shortage (so far) of worthy blogs who are yet to be awarded, and because the choice will, by definition, be personal and to that extent subjective and therefore prejudiced. I will do my best, for which read: I will take a day ot two.
So to the book. Living With the Truth. In a sense I feel there is little I can add to what has already been said, and in the main, well said. I found it a thoroughly enjoyable book, and an easy book to read - that not being intended as a criticism by the way. Quite the reverse. It is a serious book that pretends it is no such thing, and a humerous book that does not care who knows it - a combination which I find particularly attractive. The seriousness runs below the slightly acerbic wit and sarcasm, but not invisibly so; it shows in the same way a bone structure shows in the shape of a face. The net result is a gentle and humane portrait of humanity.
The first two sentences set the tone admirably:-
Had it been death that had called that day everything would have been all right. After all, he had been waiting patiently on death for some time and, by his calculations, The Grim Reaper was well and truly overdue.
But it wasn't Death, of course. It was Truth. Hence the consternation that the call would occasion. Death, he was ready for, Truth... ah, well that was an altogether different matter! Our protagonist, Jonathan Payne, is in a sense Mr Everyman: he tells lies to himself, mainly about himself. His is a very fashionable attitude, but one with all sorts of dire - though initially unrecognised - consequences for himself. Some of Truth's colleagues get cameo parts (Destiny for one) and just when you think it might turn to farce it clicks back to serious.
If you know Jim's blog you will already have a fair idea of what to expect (and if you don't know it I would recommend that you remedy that forthwith): the width of his interests and knowledge, for example; the well thought-out and thoroughly researched material; a well-paced and lively, lucid text that leads you into areas you had not altogether expected. Actually, it always gives you rather more than you had expected. It does so here. Read it, read it anywhere: if you have not yet taken your holiday, read it on the beach or in the plane. You could even read it in bed - but not if you want to fall asleep.