by Catherine O'Flynn
Originally published in the UK 2007
reviewed by Eric Green
The common refrain that "truth is stranger than fiction" certainly fits with Catherine O'Flynn's award winning first novel, "What was lost." But, it isn't until you read the writer's post script that you can a real feel and understanding for the depth of O'Flynn's writing.
This is a book that sometimes is difficult to continue, but there is a rewarding ending.
The dialogue and character development is very strong. And, the contempt for the shopping malls is fully joined with the great respect the writer gives the characters as they try to make sense out of their storefront, in working class lives.
To have just done a critique and attack on "mall living" would have made this novel just another cliché itself. This is book is anything but a cliché.
While certainly a novel of fiction, like most fictional books that rise to the level of "What was lost" there is more than a grain of reality.
Again, the short essay by O'Flynn, a life long resident of Birmingham, England, is as beautiful a presentation as the book itself.
My one regret is that I would have loved to have seen O'Flynn used Kate's life as the centerpiece of the mall world. Maybe that would have been too close to her own life. But, alas that is why O'Flynn writes novels and I don't.
Looking forward to her next novel.