August, by Bernard Beckett

This book made me think. The front cover states that it’s a thriller, which I suppose in a way it is, but August sort of slips through the cracks when it comes to genres. At first, the book seems to be set in our world, where we encounter two people trapped in a car after a crash. As they lie there, they begin to tell their life stories, and we quickly realise how different a world they live in. A chapter in, and you begin to think this is going to be a sci-fi type story set in a dystopian mirror of our world. Then, a few more chapters in and you realise this presumption is also wrong.

The way this book was organised was quite simple, but also effective: both characters told a little bit at a time, interspersed with their dialogue in the car. However, there was a lot of theological and philosophical ideas crammed into a small space during the telling of the boy’s (Tristan’s) life at school in a monastery. I suppose I just have to read it again to really soak in all the information.

It was written in the third person, which made you feel a little distanced from the characters (read my post on setting and immersive versus observative reading), and the life stories were told in a quick-moving, fast-paced way. This created a sort of… air of uneasiness throughout the book, which added to the whole ‘thriller’ theme, but sort of alienated the reader.

It was definitely a very though-provoking book, especially the last few chapters, plus is was a nice short read at just over two hundred pages. I’d be up for reading Beckett’s other book, Genesis, which you get a preview of at the end of August.

I’m just wondering, anyone who’s read August, could you tell me where the title came from? I might have missed some link when reading the book, I’m not sure…

Anyway, I’m halfway through District 19 by Will Hill, so be ready for a post on that within the next week! I think I’ll save the poetry post for tomorrow…


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