Tuesday, August 30, 2011

You Were Wrong

Matthew Sharpe
You Were Wrong

Bloomsbury, 2010

26-year-old math teacher Karl Floor returnes home when on the road two of his students beat him up. In the house, which Karl received after the death of his mother on the condition that he would take care of his stepfather, a beatiful robber waits Karl. A girl named Sylvia Vetch, which is obviously hiding something from Karl, selects what she might take, and Karl, who for all his life barely spoke to girls, offers to help to choose together. Later, with some things taken out of the house, Karl and Sylvia travel to suburban squat inhabited by strange hippi commune. Karl on the same night gets drunk, wakes up in the morning without his hat and wallet, and among all of yesterday's party people he finds one strange guy with no less strange name Arv. Back home, Karl barely restrains while listening to a lengthy speech of his stepfather Larchmont Jones, can not let go Sylvia from his head and has no idea that soon he will make a lot of unpleasant discoveries.

«You Were Wrong» is, no less, almost perfect novel. A perfect novel probably does not exist in nature, so this one is almost perfect. It can be shaken inside out, cut to the individual letters, but you won’t find a significant flaw. The first reason for the almost-ideal lies in the enigma of the book. It is possible to find a single layer, or ten layers there, but as soon as you start to think that it is this one, a single layer of novel is the most important, Matthew Sharpe imperceptibly will wink to you and make a nod to the title: you were wrong. The reader was not right and did not see another layer, which was the most important one. Although it’s awkward to write about importancy: all parts of the novel, all the layers are equal, as equal fingers on the hand, with each performing its own function.

Prose of Sharpe is uncomfortable, as if you are reading the proposal, written backwards. One could say that this could be written by a math teacher (it’s a profession of the main character), but it would mean that the author's style is too prudent and dry, but when it’s on the contrary, natural, but difficult, as the most artfully arranged snowflake. Sharpe, of course, does not open new possibilities of language, but he works on the stylistic fields that almost no one used.

Sharpe is a worthy successor to John Barth, but more elegant (though perhaps less funny). «You Were Wrong» is a kind of detective story, the story of conspiracy, too. If the writers can be divided into stylists and plotters, Sharpe is a plotting stylist. And it says that the book is never boring. Each chapter ends with cliffhanger. There is a scene of the strangest "murder", an episode of pedophilia; there are numerous trips between New York and its suburbs.

The protagonist of the novel Karl Floor, whose life is rushed headlong head over heels after beating by his own students, until now was afraid to come into contact with the surrounding reality. Karl, in whom unknown, stirring him feelings conceive, realizes that he may experience these feelings only being in contact with the world. World is far more complex and difficult than most difficult mathematical problems. Karl is a debutante (there are a lot of things he had never seen in his life, for example: He had never seen the man with eyes closed.), Which in his debut wants to be first, but so far he only makes mistakes and mistakes. Incipient love of Karl to Sylvia is awkward, and Sharpe finds a good way to express their relationship:

«They did not kiss so much as their mouths exchanged brief, pensive, tactile communications.»

«Her slow dabs were so smooth, warm, and moist that he suspected she was making them with her tongue, but did not seek to verify.»

«You Were Wrong» is also a satire on contemporary American society, which breaks the fates of people like Karl, at first by making them helpless, confused, passive, but sensual, honest and fair.

Matthew Sharpe can often be found in the lists of underrated writers. So, if you have not read him or even never heard of him, you were wrong.

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