You have to respect the research that would have gone into the creation of this book. It feels so meticulous it’s easy to accept the prose as stated history; this is really how it happened. Or perhaps more fittingly, this is how I believe it happened, since belief, trust and faith are at the heart of this story.
‘I am content to report that at the centre of it all…there was a very simple emotion.’
When it comes it lifts you like a feather, this line, whilst also seeming to strike like a hammer. The starkness of it, the sheer baldness, after so much emotion, is the finger gladly taken from the wall of the dam. And of course it’s obvious, when you think about it, though the quality of the prose meant that I didn’t think about it until that hammer first threatened to chime on page 260. Then it seemed somehow right, and perfect in the way of minute things, that page 302 (and almost but not quite the bottom of page 302) filled me with that feathery lightness.
There is something very cashmere gloves about Faber prose.
Some people we believe, others we don’t. Some things we believe, others we don’t. How do we gauge that point where a thing becomes unbelievable? If a man in a pub tells us a tall story are we more likely to think it a tall tale if he’s grizzled and beer-soaked, or will we accept the fantastical from the mouth of the man in the dog collar?
Do we grade our belief? Ghosts – yes, angels – sure, fairies gremlins God – no?
And what says more about the man: the things he says we simply can’t believe, or the lies we know, in the end, he did tell?