Night Beach - Kirsty Eagar image
Uh oh. Don't hate me.

It is probably for the best that I am too much of a coward and a lightweight to start experimenting with drugs, I tried weed once and began spacing out after two puffs. However, I've listened to enough lengthy descriptions about friends' experiences to feel qualified to compare Night Beach to a trip on magic mushrooms. I'd recommend this book to fans of This is Shyness, however I'd liken the latter to being on acid instead. Both novels were extremely bizarre and focused on interesting use of language, rather than plot.

Fans of this book won't like me for saying this, but I just think that no matter how much you dress something up...


Perhaps I need to explain myself a little better. The reason I think Raw Blue really did it for me and Night Beach didn't is because when you strip both novels down to their basics - take away the fancy prose and gothic descriptions - you have one novel about a girl trying to overcome severe sexual abuse and one novel about an artist with a crush. There's no denying that the story in Night Beach wears a very pretty costume, but I wasn't fooled by it. For me, there's no writing pretty enough to make up for a lack of story.

I like that Eagar tried to take a simple idea and make it into something beautiful. And hell, did she try. I think she might have tried a little too hard to turn a not-quite-story into something bigger than it was. It just seems to me that this novel is nowhere near as deep as we're supposed to think it is. Rather than feeling like I was stood on the dark, gothic shores of the night beach, I felt like I was drowning in the waves of purple prose.

It's been on my mind... do I dare say it... ah, okay, it's been on my mind whilst reading this that Eagar was only a few small steps away from Shatter Me - another death-by-metaphor novel. Thankfully, there were no strikeouts and none of that weird repetition thing... but this book is still more writing class 101 than storytelling. I think this could be a problem that goes beyond Night Beach for Eagar, being a good writer and being a good storyteller are not necessarily the same thing. Maybe I'm not saying this right... but some people are good with words and some people are good with stories, and the lucky ones are good with both. I think Eagar has all the words, I think she has pretty words coming out of her ears... but I'm not sure she has a story worthy of them. Night Beach certainly wasn't, but hopefully she'll prove me wrong in the future.