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GOLD by Dan Rhodes

GOLD

By Dan Rhodes

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-84767-016-8
Publisher: Canongate

Dubbed one of Granta’s “Best Young British Novelists,” Gold (Don’t Tell Me About Love, 2006, etc.) returns with another fey tale of a misfit’s sojourn in a strange land.

Every January, Miyuki Woodward, a 20-something lesbian who looks Japanese but isn’t, travels to the same seaside town in Wales for a holiday, leaving her girlfriend, Grindl, behind as a test of sorts to make sure they are not too dependent on each other. There again for her eighth year running, Miyuki keeps to her routine: She drinks the local beer at the local pub; reads a book a day; hikes the blustery coastline; and helps Tall Mr. Hughes, Short Mr. Hughes and Mr. Puw in their weekly trivia competition against the other local team, Septic Barry and The Children from Previous Relationships, a rock-’n’-roll band that neither plays nor practices, but spends ample time planning their future “big tour.” One day, Miyuki, who admired a particular rock along the coast on a previous day’s walk, decides to spray paint it gold. For the sleepy off-season village, this vandalism is scandalous. At the pub that night, the incident is thoroughly discussed and repudiated. So much so that no one seems to notice the absence of Tall Mr. Hughes, otherwise a nightly fixture at the bar. Only Miyuki, who ran into him on an early morning walk as she was admiring her rock art, suspects that something might be terribly wrong, and only by confessing her crime can she sound the alarm. In telling this affectless tale, Gold’s third person narrator stands outside the (in)action of his sedate characters, treating them with the same reserved warmth they extend to each other.

Miyuki emerges as a sympathetic character, and what she finds when she returns to Grindl after cutting her holiday short is deftly handled—but don’t blink or you’ll miss it. It’s something that could be said of the whole book.