Tuesday, May 20, 2008

We Are Now Beginning Our Descent by James Meek

In We Are Now Beginning Our Descent, Adam Kellas, a journalist and new novelist, receives an email from Astrid, a woman he met while covering the war in Afghanistan. In the email, she says she desperately wants to see him. Disillusioned from his war experience and convinced that he’s in love with Astrid despite their brief time together, he doesn’t think twice about boarding the first plane to the U.S with only the clothes he was wearing. Once he’s there, he not only learns the fate of his new book, but he also gets to see and know the real Astrid.

Meek is an exceptional writer. His prose is suspenseful, intense and very descriptive. I felt like I was part of the novel. It drew me right in and I didn’t want to put it down. Meek’s experience as a journalist covering the war for The Guardian gave him the necessary expertise to present this compelling and thought provoking novel.

One of my favorite parts of the book was the dinner party scene. It was amazing to watch as a disagreement amongst guests and an indiscretion on the part of the host lead to utter disaster. Given Kellas actions and state of mind, the title of the book is very representative of continual downward spiraling of Kellas’ life. His book, his relationship with his friends or Astrid: none of it is going well.

The only trouble I had was with the backtracking during the first half of the book, which made the story a little hard to follow. I got lost more than once and spent some time confused about what was going on. However, those periods were short lived and I quickly picked up the story again.

The ending was a little cliché, but in Meek’s very capable hands it comes across as sincere rather than corny.

I’d definitely recommend this book. I hope to read more of Meek’s work.

This review copy was provided by the publisher through the wonderful people at Edwards Magazine.

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