Thursday, 18 June 2015

Meridian by David Rose

review by Maryom

MERIDIAN is 'heteroglossia' which pulls none of its punches. It is as comfortable delivering a disquisition on the semiotics of architectural absence as it is relaying the dialogue between the builders of the conservatory next door. It is truly not glibly, multi-layered, and in its concerns asks much of its readers and by extension, of the literary forms available to the writer in the 21st. century. In a literary landscape of conformity and ardent replication, MERIDIAN is undoubtedly and confidently 'stand alone.' It also manages to be a lot of fun. That's the publisher's blurb on Amazon...
MERIDIAN: A Day in the Life with Incidental Voices reveals the inner monologue of a successful contemporary architect. A post post-modern triumph, it builds into a discourse on modern life, a distillation of the demotic and the demonic..... what it says on the publishers web-site...... now, I don't usually include these publicity write-ups, preferring my own synopsis, but this time I thought I would - because if you read my review and think you'll buy the book, you'll probably end up on one of those websites, read the blurb, and wonder if it's the same book!  Honestly, don't they make it sound a 'difficult' read, up there with Ulysses? Actually it's a far more readable, accessible book that either of those summaries might have you believe.
An architect goes about his day taking snapshots (with one of those wearable-tech gadgety things that I don't understand) every hour, on the hour, and he notes what he's doing, thinking, seeing as he goes about his daily routine, till 12 o'clock, Meridian, when the book changes to 'snapshots' of a different kind - a series of vignettes capturing what others are doing at that point in time - anyone and everyone from the drunks in the park to the Queen. As the afternoon progresses the book reverts to the architects point of view, but this time interspersed with the other characters encountered in the 'meridian' section.
It is undeniably 'literary' - it isn't plot-driven and there aren't long lengthy physical or character descriptions, for example. Imagine instead reading a diary for the day, or listening in on a series of conversations; following someone as he goes about his daily routine, eavesdrops on his musings about his work and life. Gradually a picture builds up of this man, lonely, filled with a passion for his work, but now facing an uncertain future.
The central section with its multitude of voices feels a bit like walking down a street or sitting in a cafe and overhearing conversations - sometimes so intriguing you want to stop and listen to them!
I really enjoyed this book - yes it expected a little effort on my part, didn't hand me all the facts on a plate but there's nothing wrong with that. I haven't read David Rose's previous novel, the curiously subtitled Vault: an anti-novel but on the strength of Meridian, I'll have to track it down.
Meridian is short at just over 150 pages but packs those pages with such a wide spectrum of everyday life that it feels much wider and deeper than would seem possible for its size.

Maryom's review -  5 stars
Publisher - Unthank Books
Genre - Adult, literary fiction,

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