Sunday, July 7, 2013

Doors slam on old identities on a Greek Isle (Books - Skios by Michael Frayn)

I have enjoyed Michael Frayn's plays and memoir, so I was excited to find his Skios on the table at my favorite bookstore.  It is billed as a farcical beach read, a satire of academia, with serious philosophical undercurrents and I thought it would be an enjoyable distraction.  In it, a famous academic is scheduled to deliver a lecture at a philanthropic institution on a Greek Isle while a wastrel with a shock of blond hair has a scheduled tryst elsewhere on the Isle. The two are mixed up, but as they take up residence in the others lives they are each changed, sort of.  Farce? Yes, complete with door slamming and cell phone mishaps.  Satire of academia?  Perhaps.  But its machinations with mistaken identities and the wish to crawl into someone else's life were superficial, hardly philosophical.  I could see every coincidence in Skios coming from nine miles away. But it's good for a laugh or two and there are one or two clever moments.  My favorite: the academic ends up involved with the woman who had expected to have a tryst with the layabout (who is now posing as an academic).  The woman has two moles, and as he reviews his lecture...
He turned over more pages, but his mind was wandering.  Two dark spots had appeared in the air between him and the page like importunate flies.  He brushed them aside.  He turned back to the section about the overall framework of social responsibility.  The two dark spots reappeared.  they were two moles, he realized.  They had become detached from the shoulder blade on which they lived, and taken up residence inside his brain.
Frayn plots cleverly and crafts clear and even elegant sentences, but, philosophical?  Not really


Marie Cloutier said...

I'm looking forward to reading this soon. It seems like a good beach read :-)

Ted said...

Hi Marie - It's definitely worth a laugh.