two-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
47-July-Aug-2010
By: 
Jim Crace
user_rating: 
0

A-All That Follows.epsBritish writer Jim Crace is the author of nine previous novels, including The Pesthouse (3.5 of 5 Stars July/Aug 2009), Being Dead (which won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2001), and The Gift of Stones (1988). His 1997 novel, Quarantine, was named the Whitbread Novel of the Year.

The Story: In 2024 London, after a shoulder injury sidelines his career, British jazz musician Leonard Lessing spends his days surfing the Internet and flipping through an endless array of television channels. During a news story about a hostage situation in a nearby town, he recognizes the leader of a radical group, Maxim Lermontov. Leonard met him almost 20 years ago in Texas, where Maxim attempted a violent protest during a book festival hosted by Laura Bush. When Leonard decides to drive to the hostage site, he finds himself embroiled in a harebrained scheme to free the hostages.
Nan A. Talese. 240 pages. $25.95. ISBN: 9780385520768

Minneapolis Star Tribune 4 of 5 Stars
"In All That Follows, as in his other novels, Crace's prose has an elegant believability to it. There is a present-tense immediacy to how Leonard experiences the world, and the six-page description of the jazz solo is dazzling: the thoughts of an artist in the midst of creation." Tom Zelman

Denver Post 3 of 5 Stars
"All That Follows is a fine novel in many ways. It's good on the hesitations and self-justifications of the average man; on the frictions of married life; on mothers and daughters; and particularly on being a jazz musician." Merritt Moseley

Times (UK) 2.5 of 5 Stars
"[Crace] writes with real feel and imagination about this music. ... But the passion of such passages stands out all the more in the context of a book that for all its stylistic precision and intelligence is, as a whole, curiously half-hearted and out of kilter." Adam Lively

Boston Globe 2 of 5 Stars
"Incessant digressions and a slow-starting plot weigh heavily on a book that could have been an incisive comedy of manners but instead is an uneven take on activism in an age of surveillance. ... The events in Texas are miracles of brutality and betrayal that almost make up for the novel's slow start." Eugenia Williamson

Los Angeles Times 2 of 5 Stars
"Crace does well configuring Leonard's rabbit state, Francine's tormented urgency and Lucy's appealing teenage farfetchedness. But he is unable to provide a convincing story for them to move through; it is thinly and hastily contrived." Richard Eder

Critical Summary

Reaction to All That Follows was decidedly mixed, with most critics agreeing that it is not Crace's best work. While several reviewers described his writing as "elegant," others found it overwritten and self-conscious: the Boston Globe cited too much "writerly riffing." While some enjoyed the in-depth passages on jazz music, others found them a bit tedious. Jim Crace is one of England's most beloved and award-winning contemporary novelists, but readers new to his work may want to seek out earlier titles.

Also by the Author

A-BeingDead.epsBeing Dead (1999): The novel opens with the murder on a beach of a married couple in their mid-50s. From there, Crace looks backward on the couple's day, weaving in the history of their family, their daughter, and how they met. But he also looks forward--describing how the couple's bodies are not found for days and detailing how the crabs, birds, and insects pick at their corpses.