One thing you can’t fake as a writer is voice. To some it’s a mystery to develop. It sounds a lot like the adage adults might have offered you as a teen — be yourself. Yet, to others, the pursuit of self and understanding who you are in the context of the greater world, is why we write. Awareness leads to voice. Knowing what captivates us, angers us, motivates us are all topics for our voice.
As a reader, I enjoy books by authors who have a strong voice — something meaningful to say in a way unique to that person.
From the first time I read Geoff LePard’s blog, Tangental, I knew this was a writer with voice. Intelligent, quirky, compassionate, edgy and witty, I felt I struck gold getting to read posts about his father’s military service in Palestine, his growing up in the UK, his love for London and travel, Dog, poetry and fiction. Better yet, Geoff began to write regular flash fiction at Carrot Ranch despite his belief that I said something about his poop (I clearly wrote popped).
The English language can be strange cousins between the US and UK.
Yet, Geoff has tackled bringing the cousins together in his latest novel, My Father and Other Liars. It is a story that extends from England to San Francisco to Oklahoma to Nicaragua and connects global characters through personal and political twists.
Before reading this second novel by Geoff, I began to understand through his short stories and debut novel, Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, that he is consistent in developing dialog and characters. In fact, his fiction comes to life through dialog. And his characters are complex, yet approachable in their humanness.
However, I found myself uncertain about the protagonist of My Father and Other Liars. Mo can bristle. He can be sarcastic and unkind. Yet we get insights that he has goodness and valor among his flaws. It’s something I’ve begun to notice, reading two other works that Geoff is writing (Mary’s Saga and Buster and Moo). No one is the good guy or the bad guy. Clearly there are those roles in My Father and Other Liars, but even the most sinister character is given the light of humanity. It’s that perspective that makes Geoff’s characters interesting and worth reading. The ending will stun you and reveal that Mo is better than he makes himself out to be.
Another ability Geoff has as a writer is to twist plots like a rope-maker. Once I got into the story, I kept wanting to read another chapter and another. The science and the creation of a theology and government organization behind My Father and Other Liars, each creates its own strand along with the tension between the characters of Mo and Lori-Ann Beaumont. Yet Geoff unravels the knots in an unexpected but satisfying ending.
Ultimately, My Father and Other Liars made me think about how modern science and religion intersects and how connected the world is through politics, media, business and shared heartaches regarding fathers and what it is like to identify as an adult orphan.
Woof. Woo. Wonderful. And sorry about the poop.
Hee, hee…it makes me laugh! I’ll leave that part out and get reviews posted for you on Amazon and GoodReads.
Reblogged this on TanGental and commented:
What a lovely gift from the far side of the pond to add sugar to my porridge. A wonderful review of My Father and Other Liars
Beautiful review, indeed, Charli, and love how your introduction draws us to the skilful voice.
Thank you, Anne!
Cracking review! And yes I really ought to get a shifty on and read it!
It really is a great read, and you get sucked in from the beginning!
Love it. Fantastic review of both book and author. Like Anne, I thought the intro was brilliant.
Thanks! That’s really a big reason I read so many eclectic books. It’s not genre I like so much as it is a good voice, a good story to draw me in.
Voice is crucial but I also love how you described it. You know, in your voice. O_o
Ha, ha, ha!
Great review, Charli. Geoff is definitely a master of twists and tangles (is that why he blogs at Tangental?) He proves that in his weekly flash fiction. He proved it in Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, and again in My Father and Other Liars. I haven’t finished reading yet but I think I agree with your review. The plot is certainly intriguing and the tension between the characters builds well. I think Geoff could only be pleased to receive such a generous, but well-earned, review of his book. 🙂
If Geoff weren’t a writer, he’d be a yoga instructor! 😀 The end will take you by surprise, thus proving he can get the last twist out in a big way. Thanks! 🙂
That’s funny! 🙂 I’m a fan of a surprise ending. I look forward to it.
It’s tender, too (maybe that’s what caught me by surprise)! 🙂
Great review of a book I am yet to read. You have put Geoff’s voice down perfectly Charli describing it as “intelligent, quirky, compassionate, edgy and witty” and I can’t wait to read it (although I have to but the time is getting closer to when I can recline back and savour Geoff’s novels.
It’s one to savor, but I also find that Geoff’s books are paced to go fast. I hope you get to recline soon!
Me too. I have so many books just waiting to be read and I can’t until I get all the reading done I need for this. The guilt stops me.
It’s so tempting to take an afternoon…but I know better! 🙂