Monday, 24 November 2008

Testimony by Anita Shreve

Little Brown €12.99 (Easons price)
A SCANDAL erupts in a classy private school - three boys aged 18 and 19 and a girl of 14 are filmed in sex acts, and the film is released on the internet.
Testimony is the story of what comes afterwards - and before - in the words of witnesses gathered together for a docu-book.
It sorta works, and sorta doesn't. Where it doesn't, it's because the author really can't decide who's to blame here.
The girl involved is a child, but she's a slut who comes on to boys a few years older. Shreve can't quite bring herself to wholeheartedly condemn them.
No surprises happen, either. It's fairly clear from a few pages in what's going to happen - one boy will die, one will sue, and one will make reparation by devoting himself to charity.
Inevitably, there's an affair between adults tucked between the sheets of the story.
The real villain is sex-for-fun, which ends up making you feel as if you're watching a literary version of Reefer Madness.
Weirdly, the book goes from first person - everyone but the headmaster - to third person for his central narrative, to second person - iffy - for one of the mothers.
It's all worthy and weighty, maybe a sign of exhaustion in a writer who's brought out almost a book a year since 1998.
Publisher's website

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