“The Survival of Thomas Ford” – by John A. A. Logan

Cover ImageAfter a motoring accident leaves his wife dead, Thomas Ford is left in hospital with only fragmented memories of how he survived and how his wife died, of a car and its strange bird-like driver forcing him off the road and into the loch. As he recovers from a 6 week coma, he is haunted by the crash until a visitor arrives who has information about the accident, a visitor who has triggered a series of events that will culminate in murder.

The Survival of Thomas Ford to me defies genre. Although there seems to be crime/mystery elements and thriller moments, I think it would more comfortably sit in the non-genre or even literary fiction section of a book store.

Thomas Ford seems like he would be the main character of the book, but I think the author doesn’t necessarily pick favourites among the cast of completely dysfunctional characters. I could not relate to nor root for any of them with the possible exception of Thomas Ford himself. I may not really understand much about the Scottish highlands having never lived there, but this book seems to present the idea of the inhabitants being completely hard, violent and with an alien pragmatism that is sometimes quite frightening.

The author seems to explore guilt in this novel from several different angles and to different degrees: that of the policeman investigating the accident when he closes the case, that of Jack in assessing his life and decisions, that of Jimmy after causing the accident, that of Robert as the passenger and his mother at her failings as a parent and that of Thomas Ford himself as sole survivor. The varying levels of passivity or aggression that result from that guilt ranged from comprehensible to baffling.

Additionally, this seems to be a study on the nature of the universe. We are presented with different ideas of how the universe works: from Jimmy’s assertion of randomness and chaos, through Robert’s feelings that the universe self-corrects, to Jack’s pragmatic and self-serving idea of strength and will and even through the more superstitious heritage of Lanski. As I approached the very messy and violent conclusion of this story, I’m not sure I could pick exactly which view the author would like to dominate. Was it just a series of accidents, chance events that led to disaster, or was it foretold – was the universe deciding how to right a wrong or did the spirits of past actions have some influence on the outcome? Or finally, was it the characteristics (the strengths or correspondingly the weaknesses) of characters that would have always eventually lead them to such a conclusion? I enjoyed that it remained inconclusive.

The writing itself worked very well for me. I became accustomed to the vernacular in the dialogue and the narrative itself was quite elegant at times. There did seem to be a massive repetition of the word “sniff” which I tend to think wasn’t an accident. Each character seems to sniff incessantly during this story and the action became like a device to further disconnect me from the characters. It is used so many times where a far more emotional reaction is expected, so that it seemed to reinforce that these characters were somehow broken, inhuman and unfathomable.

Where I found the novel an overriding success was that even though I found the characters either completely unlikable, unreadable or even alien, I found myself quite eager to progress through the story. I oscillated between fascination and a dull shock at each turn of events and still continued happily in anticipation of the next unpredictable experience.

I would say if you like to be able to relate to the characters in a story and you like to feel attached to a hero or heroine, this is probably not a good book for you. However, if you feel that reacting to characters is just as valid as relating to them and if you don’t mind your reading experience to be unpredictable and without perhaps a clearly spelled out message, put this story towards the top of your list as I believe the experience is worth it.

Rating: 4/5

Price at the time of review: $0.99 US

Available: Amazon

Author site: http://www.johnaalogan.com/
GoodReads page: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13328789-the-survival-of-thomas-ford

This entry was posted in 4, General Fiction, Novel, Reviews and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to “The Survival of Thomas Ford” – by John A. A. Logan

  1. MrsJoseph says:

    I would say if you like to be able to relate to the characters in a story and you like to feel attached to a hero or heroine, this is probably not a good book for you.

    I think this book isn’t for me…but your review makes it sound fascinating!

  2. Pingback: “Storm Damage” – by John A. A. Logan | Papyrus

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