Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Murdstone Trilogy Review

A satire in the spirit of Christopher Moore, The Murdstone Trilogy by Mal Peet takes a stab at the writing industry as it is focusing on the High Fantasy genre, bringing humor to a process that is usually much more painful than it should be. 

Peet distills the process early on, skipping quickly to the bureaucratic aspects of the industry through Philip Murdstone’s agent, Minerva.  With her perspective in play, the reader can easily discern the misunderstood nature of the writer as recluse, as artist, even introvert.  Philip has to very quickly divest himself of not only his comfort zone as far as genre for the sake of staying legitimate as a writer, but his personal comfort of sequestered bliss in the English countryside.  He has to step into the public and be known, and neither he nor Minerva are prepared for what happens as a result of that role adjustment.

This is why the chosen POV, third person limited, works so well.  In social situations, the focus tends to be on Minerva, while the writing process sequences focus on Murdstone.  This is a practical approach to structure but it also lends insight to Murdstone and his writing career as each of them see and deal with it.

The point when Philip’s fiction world crosses over into his reality is something of a climax, but he becomes afraid of the ramifications, as many would.  I know I speak for many writers when I say this happens to all of us in one form or another and too often leaves us questioning our sanity.  But I think for that level of artistry, that detail of creating an alternate reality, one has to be at least somewhat insane.  Peet takes this to the extremes as is fitting in a satire and brings the insanity forward just a nudge more than any reader has seen.

Anyone not familiar with the process of writing or the business of writing will find this book informative to the point of hilarity, and for those of us who are in the writing business, well if you can’t make fun of yourself, you’ve no right laughing at others.