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Bright Air
Mystery/Thriller

Format Book  (Australian) Category Fiction
Title Bright Air  Pages 295 
Author Barry Maitland  RRP $32.95 AUD 
Publisher Allen and Unwin  Reviews
Edition   Ave Rating ** (1.50 of 5)

Reviews  

User Comments

Zebedee
14/08/2008
****

Another mystery story which features rock climbing but this time an Australian one. This is not a bad book. Pretty well written with plausible character and relatively accurate depictions of University life in Australia. The plot is also good. But don’t read this book because it contains climbing. I have not been to most of the climbing locations mentioned or described so as to the geographical and geological accuracy I will have to stay mute. (Though he does describe Nowra as rubbish strewn sh!t plastered hell hole favoured by nancy boy sports climbers. Which seems accurate to me. Oh hang on maybe he didn’t say that)
The climbing scenes contain the usual suspects in terms of dumbing down (simplifying for a non climbing audience). There is also a confused section where you would have to suspect that the proof reader saw typos where none really existed. “Moreover many of the bolts weren’t the modern stainless steel sort glued into place, he said, but old mild steel types hammered into lead, and liable to pull out…” Now I may be mistaken but I think this was supposed to be ‘hammered in on lead’ but the proof reader has gone “on lead” thinking of that dull grey malleable metal, “that’s not grammatical, he must mean into lead” never for a moment considering ‘leading that is going first, so these bolts were hammered in by someone on lead.’ There are a couple of other quibbles with the lead (no not the dull grey metal) character seemingly a little confused as to whether he mainly goes aid climbing or free climbing.
In all I think Barry Maitland is a pretty good writer and this is a good book just probably not a book aimed at climbers. I won’t give away any of the plot twists but it would almost seem as if Mr Maitland had been looking at this site with many locations and themes (climbing and non-climbing) in this book ones that have been discussed here. Perhaps he just had a good adviser though it’s a shame that adviser didn’t also read the final proof and remove some of the howlers.
 
hero
25/08/2008
**
Unlike Zebedee, I am no great fan of detective fiction and this book confirmed to me why. Start with the Author’s Note (Postscript) and work back is no way to construct a plot I don’t think. At some point it must have occurred to Maitland that for the ‘exciting climax’ (tongue wedged firmly in cheek) he needed to make his characters climbers. However, he was unable, clearly, to find an experienced enough one to set his straight on the facts. The result is glaring sentences, like “The one that I was most familiar with was aid climbing” (p213) despite there being no mention on aid climbing in the book.” Or unlikely plot sections like climbing a grade 20 on Frenchman’s. Not bad for someone who admits to getting into climbing only to sleep with the girl. A tip for would be fabulists (I include you in this Peter), just because you can get up a certain grade in the Blueys does not mean it translates onto a more serious cliff like Frenchman’s. And then there were the non-climbing sections that were just crap. For example, on page 28, “She ordered turkey on Turkish and a mineral water and I ordered a large cappuccino and a ham sandwich.” Who cares? There is an adage in writing, ‘don’t tell, show’ and this is as blatant a telling as anything in J.K.Rowling.

Now, I’ve been ranting about how bad this novel is for days and Zeb has kept saying, you haven’t finished it, you can’t say, it gets better. At 3am this morning I realised it didn’t. The research that I thought might be interesting, petered into nothing, the outcome was banal. At least it has probably saved me from reading another trashy detective novel for anther ten years.
 

IdratherbeclimbingM9
18/09/2008
*
Thanks for the heads up* hero.
... as a return favour ...
~> dont read the book talked about here.

[*I have not (& wont) read Bright Air. The half star given is only because of review posts default (must choose one), and it is the lowest rating.] 

 

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