Thursday, April 26, 2012

BOOK: The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spark

The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spark, 105 pages

Muriel Spark Reading Week

This was the most disturbing Spark book yet. This one really reminded me of The Comfort of Strangers by Ian McEwan, with the British tourist travelling to Italy and behaving oddly, along with some strange violence. Lise is a thirty-something spinster (written in 1970) departing on holiday. After her complete freak-out when trying on a dress that is 'stain-resistant', you realize something is off with Lise. While Lise continually looks for her imaginary boyfriend every where she goes, she does befriend a few people, but all her interactions are bizarre, in that she doesn't make any sense, and Spark keeps us away from her thoughts, so we have no idea why she does anything. Well, except for that foreshadowing sentence that occurs pretty early in this book is a pretty big clue.

Wikipedia tells me The Driver's Seat deals with themes of alienation, isolation and loss of spiritual values and is a psychological thriller. So, does it meet all the characteristics of what I have come to expect from a Spark book? Detached characterization with little emotional involvement, a foreshadowing sentence that makes the story take a left turn, sinister undertones all the way through (often for good reason!), short (under 200 pages), big themes and symbolism, and interesting story on the surface? For the most part, yes. This story wasn't as interesting but I imagine it was ground-breaking at the time for its themes, so it gets pass. This novel was also nominated for the Lost Booker Prize of 1970 that was announced in 2010.

Thus ends my Muriel Spark adventures for the week. I read three of her twenty-two books, and will continue to look for some more. Reading them so close together let me have my own comparative literature course, and I think I've made some interesting generalizations.