Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Book Alert: "Tomorrow" by Graham Swift

no. 363

Book Alert: Tomorrow by Graham Swift
Published by Picador
September 2007 – expected US Publish date


This post is not so much a book review as it is a book alert. One reason for this is I have not read the book and only heard about it today.

In short, the book is narrated by Paula, a 49 year old British wife and mother, while she lays in bed late at night next to her sleeping husband. She has a secret to tell her 16 year old twins. Now if I am writing about this book it should be obvious that the secret is that they are donor conceived. The mother recounts her and her husband’s life and everything that brought her to this point the night before she and her husband are to tell her unsuspecting children the truth.

As I cannot truly comment on the book as a literary work I thought it would be appropriate to provide excerpts of published reviewers that have read the book. My only observation is that I am not surprised that the topic has reached into popular fiction as I know that it has been addressed in earlier books. What I do find interesting are my reactions to the reviewer’s texts.

Overall it appears to me the book is a long and drawn out read about the parents’ lives which does not appear to address how they chose the donor, the thought processes behind their choice, any thought by the parents about the ramifications of using DI or why and how they determined that they would tell the children after they turned 16.

The Independent
A lovely trip to a humdrum destination
By Carol Birch
Published: 27 April 2007

So what is the dreadful secret to be unveiled tomorrow, a revelation long ago scheduled for "after their 16th birthday"? What could possibly be so terrible that it might split asunder this close and loving family?

When the bombshell finally explodes, it does so with all the shock value of a child sticking out two fingers and shouting "bang!" Is that it? You say, and read on to the book's quiet end. Dawn, and the revelation is still to be made. What to make of it? Perhaps Paula is delusional. Is her life so content that she feels the fragility of it, and perversely has to manufacture a drama of monumental size? Mike, she says, is "like a man finding it in him to sleep on the eve of his execution". Perhaps he sleeps so soundly because there really is nothing too much to worry about

Eric: Nothing to worry about? If I had not told my kids until after they turned 16 and they were about to learn I was not their father I’d bet I‘d be up all night.


The Guardian - Digested Read
John Crace
Tuesday May 1, 2007

Eric: You almost have to read the whole review (it’s quite short) as the reviewer is digesting the book more than somewhat tongue in cheek.

I rushed home and told Mike that, consumed as I was with lust for him, I needed a child and we should try artificial insemination. Yet if I was to receive an unknown man's sperm, I needed to know what it was like to have another man inside me. At least that's the ridiculous reason I'm giving you for the unconvincing one-night stand I had with the vet. Don't worry, though, my little snails, the vet is not your father. The thing that will change your lives for ever is far duller than that. It is that your birth father was a sperm donor.

Yes, we love you as much as if you were our real children - Mike even saved you from drowning once. But can you ever forgive us, my little whelks, for him not being your real father? Will you leave us? We shall find out tomorrow. Or maybe I should just get out more


Eric: The
US Amazon book site had little info outside various newspaper site one line throwaway reviews for the author, previous works and the current book .

UK Amazon book site included one personal reader review including the following comment:

Tomorrow's event which Paula has been worrying about turns out to be a huge let-down. Sure it is a revelation which will take some getting used to, but in this day and age it is hardly unusual. Talk about making a drama out of a crisis.”


Bea said...

I *guess* in some ways its good people don't see donor conception as shocking or abnormal, but boring and everyday. But, yeah, kind of dismissive of the importance of the subject to the individuals involved.


Unknown said...

I feel ill. "Little snails?" That's just bad writing.

Eric, have I mentioned that I am a creative writing major and that I have written a 20-page short story in which the three children are DI? It's less about donor conception and more about child abuse, but I did include that.