Alleluia! After three disappointments, I finally found a book I could enjoy: Jim Crace's novel Being Dead.
Seriously, I was beginning to think there was something wrong with me. Perhaps I'd got so caught up in my own writing that, when searching for something in the fiction of other authors - some sort of escape, some sort of enchanting surprise, some sort of entertainment - I'd unwittingly doomed myself to being forever disappointed. As if I might, stupidly, be searching for the book I wanted to write. But, no, I just had a bad trot, that's all, and Jim Crace proved it. Cheers, Jim.
I must confess that I hadn't read Mr Crace before, but the quality of Being Dead is such that I'll soon be ordering a couple of his other titles (Quarantine will probably be one, as this took the 1997 Whitbread Award and was short-listed for the Booker Prize of that year).
It might sound depressing, but it's not. It's lyrical, imaginative and engaging from start to finish.
In finding out a little more about the author and the novel, I came across a fine blog, The Age of Uncertainty. You can read more about Being Dead, Jim Crace, and much more besides, here.On Baritone Bay, in mid-afternoon, Joseph and Celice, married for almost thirty years, lie murdered in the dunes. The shocking particulars of their passing make up the arc of this courageous and haunting novel. The story of life, mortality and love, Being Dead confirms Jim Crace's place as one of our most talented, compassionate, and intellectually provocative writers. (Picador edition)