grey, by jon armstrong

There are probably a dozen things I love and admire about this novel, so I’d thought I’d take a moment to share some of my thoughts on the book.

The contrast is lovely. It’s everywhere you look around the book: the main characters wear gray (grey?) in an over-garish, over-sexed, obscene, vulgar world that feels like an embellishment of Hollywood-weirdness, and there’s a definite fight for modesty and good taste against their culture. It marks the dividing line between the protagonists and antagonists. Similarly, in a world where having sex in public is actively indulged in, lauded, the main characters have a real love without ever having touched each other. The novel makes a huge distinction between love and lust, and the understated intimacy is deeply romantic. It drives the story.

The plot is gripping. There’s no down-time, no wasted speech, no preaching. Each scene is a logical follow-up of the last, and I never struggled through any passages. Everything that happened seemed logical and sequential. It is, however, highly stylized. I can understand if the narrative isn’t for everyone– for instance, characters and places tend to be described by fashions because that’s what the hero notices. He’s very speculative, and he likes imagery, and though sometimes the magazine he loves seems overly ‘artistic’ and full of hidden meanings, again the contrast with the rest of the culture really does make it sound appealing.

My favorite stories are the ones that make me think. They leave me mulling over the events afterward like a fine dinner in a nice restaurant. This one accomplished that, and though I found this as a free downloadable e-book, I’m eager to buy it so it can find a nice home on my shelf. I’ll see if I can order it from my bookstore. If that fails, Nightshadebooks.com has it, and I’m no stranger to buying books online.

It’s also given me several ideas about how to better convey culture in my own writing. Color me inspired.

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