Today I enjoyed the luxury of reading Saving Grace by Michael Graeme, on Wattpad. Michael is one of my favorite writers and this new one lived up to everything I expect and get from his novels – interesting and complex characters, beautiful writing, settings that make me want to know more about them, well-crafted plot lines as well as timely surprises, the unexpected. As always, highly recommended!
It’s a curious thing to read fiction when you have a history and familiarity with the author, when you know how they view things in general, when you know what they’ve been thinking about, when you have some glimpses of their private life. I’m a follower of Michael’s blog, where some of his themes play out; his love of cars, of touring around Britain, of poetry, his takes on inequality, Brexit, other such topics.
In some ways he is also a rare kindred spirit of mine – a writer who self-publishes his work for free (having experienced the conventional way), who writes for the sake of it, for the stories themselves, for the freedom of expression if provides. Also in terms of protagonists, he tends toward the loner-loser types as I do (though he is so much more insightful) and has them caught up in fraught situations partly due to their own clumsiness and partly due to random acts of fate. His leads are the inverse of Patricia Highsmith creations – softies at heart who hesitate to hurt a fly even as the sticky paper of their nature gets those very flies in trouble anyway.
I smiled at references to Slaughterhouse Five (a recent blog comment reference), to the vanishing art of reading, to bookstores and self-publishing, all while totally absorbed in the mystery and the tangle of poor Mike Garatt, who had only good intentions but the law, the mobs, social media, the world outside align their forces against him for the mere fact of his having smiled at a pretty customer. As in many of his novels, Graeme’s Hamletic hero once again finds himself befuddled and bewitched by an array of women he can’t hope to comprehend. They will have their way. He can only hope to survive.