I’ve been eager to get out of the house a bit more of late, and in doing so have re-discovered my love of the library. This book was on display and certainly caught my eye. The enormous and deceptively simple title juxtaposed against the background of a split country scene intrigued me so I checked it out without even reading the synopsis.
Foe is narrated by Junior, a man who lives a quiet life in near-isolation with his wife, Hen. The book opens with a visit from a representative from OuterMore – an innovative company with government ties. They’ve come to offer the good news that Junior has been long-listed for an Installation that will take him away from home for years. It’s a non-voluntary (read: mandatory) trip that will separate him from his wife and throw him into completely unknown circumstances.
Iain Reid does a phenomenal job at constructing what I can only describe as a carefully clever story. Junior, Hen, and Terrance facilitate it every step of the way, providing a wonderful character study. Because there are so few characters, I was really able to focus not only on their relationships, but also on the things that made up Junior’s every day life.
I can’t go into too much detail about the plot or characters without spoiling the whole book. I will say that each character provided something valuable to the narrative. There were no unnecessary flourishes, nothing included without reason. It was an intricate and self-contained tale.
My only complaint about the book was the strange formatting when it came to dialogue. All of the characters had quotation marks around their speech except for Junior. I found it really off-putting in the beginning, not entirely sure where his speech ended and the narrative began. Even after finishing the book, I can’t see any good reason why that tactic was used and I believe it would have been better off without it.
Though I was able to guess the ending almost from the first page, I think I may be anomalous in that regard because I’ve read so many books with similar themes. Still, I enjoyed this immensely and finished it in one sitting. It’s a quiet and unassuming read that nevertheless asks some very pertinent questions about relationships and what it means to be human.
I’ll be checking out more of the author’s work, and continuing to pick up reads based purely on covers and titles to see where it takes me.
Do you have any quiet reads to recommend? Let me know in the comments below!