Once upon a time, there was an author called Stephen King who wrote of the author J K Rowling criticizing her writing style joking, “[Rowling had] never met [an adverb] she didn’t like.” Harry, he noted, “speaks quietly, automatically, nervously, slowly, and often — given his current case of raving adolescence — ANGRILY.”
I wonder what he would like to say now, after reading The Cuckoo’s Calling. “There are far too many adverbs and adjectives,” writes London Evening Standard in what it supposes to be a mixed review, “most of them clichés. Hiatuses are stunned, relief is giddy, patience is in short supply, and so forth.”
Honestly, I think Robert Galbraith aka J K Rowling has done a brilliant job yet again, after the well received The Casual Vacancy, which, again, in my opinion, was a splendid story. The hiatuses stated before come in a very detailed description, hoped to convey a vivid story-telling style – which, it does, in fool proof – in this case, whenever a character enters a room. These hiatuses come in breaking up the characterizations, just as when you begin to form an image of the character the lead is talking to. Yes, there are moments when you just want to throw the book away, as it doesn’t come any close to moving the story in an adequate pace, but just as Rowling herself quotes from Pliny the Elder,
…and the best plan is, as the popular saying was, to profit by the folly of the others,
all the over-descreptive story-telling adds up to the grand-finale that is the climax. I would induce the throw-up of my half-digested Black Fantasy Cake I consumed as I read through the pages of the book, if you ever could honestly say you didn’t catch your breath when Rowling revealed the killer’s name. As I was saying, if you stick with the hardest parts of the book, you’d be rewarded with the best of the parts — hasn’t your mommy ever taught you that life isn’t fair?
The story features Cormoran Strike, which is a very odd and – at the same time – endearing choice of name, which reminds me of Coriandrum, although it means an English seabird. He’s a one-legged ex-veteran, and had just been dumped by his girlfriend. Again, Rowling plays a no-parenthood card just like she did with her famed fantasy series, and in my honest opinion, makes the character more amiable. The female lead, Robin Ellacott, spices up, just in the right places and in the right amounts. She’s just engaged to her stodgy fiancé and seemingly happy, but Rowling keeps nudging her to do what really makes her happy. I don’t think she understands it, but do we all? The backbone of the story is this odd combination of characters as they wind through the complex storyline that challenges every aspect of society, and you bet it’s beautiful.
In The Cuckoo’s Calling, though, Cormoran Strike investigates the story of Lula Landry, who fell to her death as a result of an alleged suicide. The story opens three months after her death, but Rowling grips her readers like it’s just happened. Rowling’s greatest strength is her characterization; she does that in this book, a tad better than the Potter Series. Every character Strike meets is brilliantly described with matching mannerisms that go raw and rare – I wonder if Rowling went to some psychological class to figure this out. The Urban London is exquisitely described, with words that touch the right notch, as she does like so in the opening of the book:
The grand and gracious white buildings that lined the wide street; the plane trees; the cafe’s bustling with the upper middle classes; the sleek restaurants…
It’s amazing to read the book because of two reasons: 1. Strike’s breathy personality and withdrawn emotional trait. 2. Comparing your view on some characters with Strike’s view. Even when the elderly, about-to-die, Madam Yvette Bristow was craving for affection, Strike remains there sitting by her bedside, looking at her wrinkly forehead and papery forearms, saying nothing at all. Rowling writes through Strike, “[strike] had no answer to give. She invited pity, but he found he could not pity her as much as, perhaps, she deserved.” I guess, this is called the famous British stiff upper lip. *Sigh.* Perhaps, this is why, even little of emotion-driven activities that Strike does like gifting Robin the green dress she had worn in an expensive store as an act, and the repeated muttering of “you’re a great person, Robin,” when Strike was drunk, puts your heart on fire. I call this The Rowling Touch.
It is to be perhaps noted how Rowling covers all the classes of modern Britain; sometimes you wonder if Rowling is trying to tell something through her stories. Like this for example: “something about [Madam Bristow] recalled Rochelle; although they were as different as two women could be, both have off the resentment of those who feel shortchanged and neglected.” Rochelle being the homeless person and Madam Brstow being the rich Lady that owned yachts, it is endearing to find the connection between classes that transcend all the material illusions. Rowling, again, snidely establishes how all of us are very similar.
When Rowling was revealed as the author of The Cuckoo’s Calling after the book having sold 1500 copies, the sales of the book went 150,000% higher, making Comedian Michael Moran tweet like this: “Idea for publishers: 1: Reveal that ALL books were written by JK Rowling. 2: Sales of all books soar by 150,000%. 3: Industry saved.” But Maureen Corrigan of npr books sounds disgruntled at the fame and glory after the book topped all the charts as she writes, “No matter [the inadequacies of the book], Rowling is laughing all the way to the vault.” When allegations about the stunt being orchestrated, Rowling said, “If sales were what mattered to me most, I would have written under my own name from the start, and with the greatest fanfare.” Thanks for reminding the world why she’s a great role model.
When Rowling doesn’t rake her head creating fantasy worlds, she focuses her energy completely on the narrative and her straight comments on society could be understood by all. Again, she does a superior job that none of the so-called critics could emulate themselves to. The sequel The Silkworm is out now and it’s foraging great reviews as I write this, and there’s no doubt this new addition of a wonderful book to the world will make it a better place.