Review: THE LIE by Fredrica Wagman

Wikipedia defines the ‘stream of consciousness’ literary tool as:

“…a narrative mode that seeks to portray an individual's point of view by giving the written equivalent of the character's thought processes, either in a loose interior monologue, or in connection to his or her actions.”

While it’s not a device I’m fond of reading, Fredrica Wagman has some good company. James Joyce, Marcel Proust, Dorothy Richardson (who was said to have created the technique) and Virginia Woolf have all used it. I think it can’t be easy to write – the author has to keep track of where her story is going in a way the reader doesn’t have to worry about. The reader is led along on the journey of the character’s thought processes and one hopes an ending will eventually be reached.

And so it was with The Lie. The first page contains one of the most interesting and (I thought) humourous descriptions of someone’s fingers I’ve ever read:

“…- his fat peasant hands that were almost like primitive art – each shocking finger round and wide at the base, but instead of getting slightly narrower as it progressed like most fingers do, it kept all its fat round wideness all the way up to the nail where there was a certain unusual thickening…a rather bulbous thickening you might say all around the nail head itself, so that each finger looked exactly like a penis…and there were ten of them…ten perfect penis fingers…I couldn’t take my eyes away.”

There are more descriptions like this one and I often re-read them just for the enjoyment of it. The Lie begins with Ramona Smollens sitting on a park bench one afternoon. She falls into conversation with the owner of the fingers and soon after that into bed. Finding freedom with Solomon Columbus after the death of her father, an oppressive, abusive man and her mother, who is mentally unstable, Ramona strives to find her way using the cult of film stars as a guide. However she begins to questions herself when she is not bowled over by Solomon as she believes she should be. Everything Ramona is and everything she does is compared to Rita Hayworth and how the film start would behave given similar situations.

The Lie is a slim novel and an easy book to read – the prosaic flow of words leads from one page to the next and before I knew it I’d finished the book. I found the premise unique and many descriptions quite vivid. And, as mentioned, though I’m not a fan of the ‘stream of consciousness’ literary device, it didn’t bother me too much in this instance. Occasionally, I found there were too many uses of hyphens and ellipses, and while it may be a necessary tool when using this method of writing, I found it broke up the flow of the story a bit. Otherwise I enjoyed The Lie and would recommend it as a very interesting and unique view of a young woman’s perspective of how to find herself in a world of ideals.


Tina on June 22, 2009 at 11:46 AM said...

Hi Donna: I was reading the description of the fingers and I was actually having a minor breakdown - wayyyy ttooooo looonngg and boorooorriing.

A finger is a finger :) But I loved the review you gave it.

I also thought the cover was very interesting.

bermudaonion on June 22, 2009 at 1:39 PM said...

I'm with Tina - I think it's a little too descriptive.

Staci on June 22, 2009 at 11:44 PM said...

I've just seen this book somewhere else but it hadn't been reviewed yet...sounds interesting....but I'm not sure if it something I would read or not.

Literary Feline on June 27, 2009 at 12:29 AM said...

I enjoy stream of conscious writing if it is done right. Unfortunately it is really easy to flub. Like you, I imagine it can't be easy!

This sounds like an interesting book. I'll have to look further into it.


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