"All That Follows" by Jim Crace

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Lennie Less is a saxophonist, a well-known jazz musician in the U.K. with lots of fans and lots of credits, who is apparently afraid of everything. Jim Crace presents this quirky, bumpy portrait as its hero lives through the very eventful week in which he turns 50. The narrative contains a highly individual, detailed, and sometimes trying progress to a nevertheless rewarding denouement.

The player in question is almost no player at all. He shies from everything. He has taken a sabbatical as our story opens, trying to deal with a bum shoulder that depresses him - makes him feel his age. His wife and stepdaughter have had a violent row and the stepaughter has moved out and severed contact. As a result, his dear wife has lost her sense of humor, her devotion to her husband has taken a back seat, and as Lennie waits and hopes for a renewed closeness, he watches the video news. His past impinges suddenly on his presentwhen Maxie Lermontov, a trouble-making radical Lennie once knew, perpetrates a hostage crisis. His past comes rushing back in, inconveniently, and he perversely cannot stay away from it, or tell his wife or the authorities the truth about it.

Mr. Crace constructs Lennie Less of not-very-stern stuff at the outset of his story. And the character's whining and prevarication wore me down a bit. I always returned, however, to take up the story, and now I'm very glad I did. The hero becomes more sensible and more admirable as the book progresses and his family, his admirers, even his legion of fans, grows as a result. Mr. Crace has clearly gained a fan in me. His hero's multi-faceted character reflects a mature, confident author, and an extreme talent at structuring a story. Pick up "All That Follows" and meet the author and his memorable creation.
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