Is it what we know that traps us, or drives us, or what we don’t? It’s the trouble with keeping something from someone: you become a slave to the knowledge, more so than that person in their ignorance of it (blissful or otherwise). And of course in the world of a private detective it’s the matrimonial work that dominates. But this is what it all comes down to: It’s the shades of knowledge, and the lack of freedom those boundaries impose that shape the way we live.
It’s a lesson in relevance from a writer’s point of view. The telling of a lifetime in the space of a day necessarily touches only on what reflects, highlights or impacts the main thread of the story. The layering of moments reinforces that relevance, and acts like a ratchet on the tension too. Small wonder that a man whose livelihood is darkness and shadows longs ultimately for a crisp, cloudless November sky and the titular clear light of day.
I love this book. Just to see the cover of it makes me smile. It’s ninety seven years old – the inscription inside tells me so. The covers are plain board, green, and feel and smell just like any well-kept old book: that dusty musk of the leisurely hour. But there’s something else. On my copy there are sunflowers- three to be exact. They have twining, leafy stems that curl in on each other, and beautiful yellow flower heads. You might not realise if you see it from a distance but they’re painted on. As with the inscription, they were added to make this special thing that little bit more special. The book has become an object beyond a simple book. It has now a story of its own. As a reader I feel that a story, once it leaves my hands, leaves a part of itself within so that the writer is somehow brought a little closer (the characters, the plot, the premise came, after all, from that particular imagination). As a writer too, I’m aware of that sense of connection when something I’ve produced sparks a comment or discussion with a reader. These connections are precious things. Stories are precious, and so e-readers of every description are precious in their own way. But when you hold an e-reader you hold a device. I prefer the feel of a book. To me e-readers are homogenous. Novels on e-readers resist being personalised. They will never be the true statement, the act of carefully and painstakingly and beautifully wrapping a gift for a loved one that is a book. This book has all those things, and will be cherished as something special.
And I liked the story too!