Sex and Stravinsky, By Barbara Trapido
The good, the bad and the ballet
Sunday 15 May 2011
"Oh dear yes – the novel tells a story," said E M Forster, and Barbara Trapido has taken his words to heart.
The narrative pulls you in from page one and you just want to know what will happen to these people. There's Josh, a diminutive, curly-haired academic, his six-foot, intellectual Amazon wife Caroline, and their ballet-loving daughter, who all live in a bus together, and there's Caroline's rebarbative mother; while over in Durban, there is Josh's former flame Harriet, a writer of ballet books for children, her domineering Boer husband, and their stroppy teenage daughter;. And then there's Jack, a mixed-race, self-educated South African of mysterious provenance. All these lives are deftly plaited together in a clever, surprise-filled, pleasingly symmetrical and utterly compelling story. This is a novel in which even inanimate objects – a tutu, some china Hummel figurines, a silver writing desk – become characters.
Trapido is particularly good at writing horrible characters, and you are never in any doubt about whose side you're on. The sharp distinction between the nice characters and the nasty ones affords a Harry Potterish kind of pleasure, but there's a more intellectual satisfaction to be had in the grace of the writing, the psychological insight and the acrobatics of Trapido's imagination. Think Anne Tyler crossed with Iris Murdoch.
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 This is what happens when you tattoo Charmander on yourself, drunk, and with no experience
- 2 BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 3 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 4 The Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer has leaked – watch
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a white stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
Russian warships in English Channel 'to conduct anti-aircraft and anti-submarine military drills'