Review The Face By Phil Whitaker Essay

Reappraisal: The Face By Phil Whitaker Essay, Research PaperGone for a BurtonThe Faceby Phil Whitaker246pp, Atlantic BooksThe Face is Phil Whitaker & # 8217 ; s 3rd novel.

When he & # 8217 ; s non composing, he works as a GP and forensic medical tester. It shows. The book is shocking in its item, steady in its regard, and profoundly perforating in its penetration into flesh and blood.Whitaker & # 8217 ; s first novel, Eclipse of the Sun ( 1997 ) , was good crafted and fascinating. His 2nd, Triangulation ( 1999 ) , was good crafted and capturing. The Face is a major progress on these two: it & # 8217 ; s well-crafted and utterly sickening. This is a recommendation.Ray Arthur is a retired constabulary investigator.

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He & # 8217 ; s dead: killed in a auto clang affecting no other vehicles that may hold been inadvertent or may hold been suicide. But what ground would person like Ray, a good bull and a loving male parent and gramps, have to make himself in? The book is narrated alternately by Zo & # 235 ; , Ray & # 8217 ; s girl, and Declan, a former constabulary creative person and friend of Ray & # 8217 ; s, who worked with him in Nottingham back in the early seventiess on a peculiarly hideous instance of sexual assault on a immature miss. The narrative is interspersed with transcripts from the inquest into Ray & # 8217 ; s death.These three histories of Ray & # 8217 ; s life and decease represent a considerable proficient achievement. Whitaker achieved a similar narrative complexness in Triangulation.

Sometimes one admirations if the necessary back-to-back thought, the logic and the relentless chase of truth that characterise the scientific mentality are better suited to the composing of fiction than the boring self-obsessions of the literary.During the class of the novel Declan & # 8217 ; s addresses to the reader become progressively distressing and poetic & # 8211 ; & # 8220 ; Out of my scope your organic structure has no mass, you are free of gravitation, at the mercy of the wind. Gusts blow you this way and that. You become disorientated, lose your sense of time and place.” Zoe, meanwhile, is at first merely inquisitive and then concerned and alarmed as she discovers strange truths about her father, and her own marriage begins to falter.And all the time, in the background, the inquest is grinding on, marshalling the relevant facts: “The incident occurred at approximately two thirty in the afternoon of October twenty third. It was raining .

. . visibility was fair.

There was one vehicle involved, a blue Volkswagon Polo 1.3LS.” As in his other novels, Whitaker is attempting to resurrect the past: in this instance, and in particular, a dreary 1970s Nottingham.

He makes it look pathetically easy, simply peeling back the present to reveal what’s underneath. This is how he recreates a typical 1970s pub: “Try to ease yourself back some thirty years… The bare floorboards will be the same, but the taps behind the bar have become pump handles. Instead of the panoply of lagers and bitters they stock only Shipstone’s, Burton Ale and Guinness. The air is grey with cigarette smoke, and any music has become nothing more than the muttering of voices, punctuated by the clunk of the cash drawer sliding shut beneath the till.” And that’s it.

They’re broad, bold brushstrokes, but they achieve the desired effect. It takes some writers whole novels to convince you that they have any genuine sense of the past. Whitaker saves his energies for plots.

He should probably be writing screenplays.To say much more about The Face would be to begin to unravel the skein. Suffice it to say that there is a terrible miscarriage of justice, and that there are things that flesh and blood cannot bear.· Ian Sansom is the author of The Truth About Babies (Granta)


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