Saturday, March 1, 2014
One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson, 2006. ... Graham Hatter spends almost all of One Good Turn in a coma, but he still manages to dominate the book due to the way he has lived prior to the coma. A coma is not Hatter’s natural state, and it’s as if his energetic, devil-may-care spirit, not content being confined in a hospital bed, has left his body to stalk the pages of the novel. He causes considerable chaos among his associates and employees by his absence. His crappy housing estates, Hatter Homes, figure big in the plot. Most of all, Hatter lives on in the memories of his now-almost-widow, Gloria, as she moves about her daily life, tweaking her home and wealthy lifestyle to (finally!) fit her tastes. A reader, like me, is alternately tickled and horrified as we come to know Graham through Gloria’s musings. Gloria remembers when Graham got a speeding ticket. He had been speeding, talking on his Bluetooth, smoking a cigar and eating a huge, greasy cheeseburger, all at the same time. And that pretty much sums up Graham Hatter. … Martin, the accidentally successful writer, is Hatter’s opposite. He has trouble making his presence felt, even when he is actually present. He is frequently mistaken for someone else, such as a gay person (which he’s not) or a dead person (not quite). But since Martin is not, like Graham, in a coma, he is actually able to make things happen in the world on occasion, and so … well, you will have to read it for yourself. It is dark, sad, and sometimes graphic, but if you are in a space to enjoy such things, it is also very funny.