I like this book. It has a story to make you happy and sad, pictures to make you wonder, and themes to make you think.
Sarah Laing is a cartoonist as well as a writer — I knew of her work from magazines and from her blog Let Me Be Frank. I read a review of The Fall of Light somewhere and thought it sounded interesting. Sometime later I realised that the cartoonist/blogger was also the novelist, so I went out and bought the book.
The story details the fall and rise of Rudy Chapelle, an Auckland architect. He struggles with his job, his colleagues, his ex-wife, his children, his friends, his neighbours, and his parents. In short, he struggles. He is actually pretty annoying in many ways, quite precious and a bit self-obsessed. I could appreciate why his ex-wife was his ex-wife. But he’s not a bad guy really, and it’s good to see his slowly overcome himself despite himself. Many of the other characters in the book are very engaging and likeable though. And so is the setting — Auckland — but maybe just because I live there too.
Throughout the story, Rudy has a series of strange yet compelling dreams. The dreams’ narrative is illustrated by cartoons running through the novel. I like the way this mixes up the experience of reading the book. If you spent long enough you could probably relate the main plot to the dream plot and note all the parallels, resonances and contrasts. Or you could just enjoy the extra visual dimension they add to the novel — further interpretation will come during the re-readings.