Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Review: Home Truths
"Home truth" is an expression we don't use much in America, but it is a good one, meaning, according to the OED, "a wounding mention of a person's weakness." David Lodge examines the concept in the context of creativity and success in his novella Home Truths.
The compact story centers on Adrian Ludlow, a former novelist turned anthology editor who lives with his wife in "a little pocket of slightly scruffy agricultural land" in Sussex – closer to Gatwick airport than the South Downs. Their longtime friend, television screenwriter Sam Sharp, drops in on his way to Los Angeles, fuming over a hatchet-job profile of him in that morning's paper. Adrian and Sam plot to turn the tables on the journalist, who walks right into their trap.
Lodge based the novella on his play of the same name, with a few tweaks and some added material. It is easy to see the skeleton of the play in the book because the story is almost all set in the Ludlows' living room, is told mostly in dialog, and is highly choreographed, with characters conveniently moving in and out of the living room to give others opportunity for one on one conversations. This structure adds to the story by giving it an immediacy not found in longer, more narrated novels.
As the plot unfolds, each of the characters has to face some home truths about their careers and personal lives. Like with a good play, lines and scenes draw laughs, but the bigger ideas will linger long after this quick read is finished.