Boyd: Ordinary Thunderstorms


There is something about William Boyd’s writing that reminds me of Graham Greene, though I can’t quite put my finger on it. Mind you, it’s a few years since I read anything by Greene, so it may simply be my memory playing up. I have almost finished Boyd’s Ordinary Thunderstorms and it’s a real page turner. It took me a while to get into it. I had reached page two when I came across two words I hadn’t seen before: bosky and susurrus. My interest stalled. I was reminded of pretentious authors who insert Latin of French phrases into their text without even a hint at the meaning (luckily, for peasants like me that did brickwork, plumbing and carpentry at school rather than Latin and French, there are very few of these authors still around). Statistically, as by page two there were already two words I didn’t understand and it is a 403 page book, there could well have been another 401 more words to baffle me, to knock me right out of the story. No way was I going to read a novel with the book in one hand and the OED in the other.

I persevered. After all, Boyd’s protagonist was going for a lecturing job at Imperial College, my old Alma Mater (see, I write Latin!). I needn’t have worried. Beyond page two I understood every word.

William Boyd wrote Restless, and A Good Man in Africa. I came across him (I have deja vu here – I might already have said this in an earlier blog) when driving south to the Stafford Classic Bike Show. I needed something to listen to and I bought a set of Restless CDs. When I got home I sought out more of his stuff and I read A Good Man in Africa

Shall I look up those two words? I wasn’t going to bother but it’s nice to learn new things so I’ll do it now.

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