Thursday, 19 November 2009

Loitering with intent (Spark) 527

Loitering with intent was the other VMC Spark title that was new to me this week, and it was another very typical Spark novel, although I didn't quite enjoy it as much as A far cry from Kensington. It is the story of Fleur Talbot, who works as a secretary for the Autobiographical Association (a body which collects people's memoirs as they are written, and keeps them for 70 years until the people mentioned in the memoirs have all died and can be safely published). At the same time Fleur is trying to get her own book, Warrender Chase, published. Like other Spark books this combines both comedy and mystery - after Fleur's manuscript is stolen, events in her life and at the Autobiographical Association start to mirror the novel surprisingly closely.

I enjoyed the story, and as usual Spark's depiction of the characters, but I can't help feeling that some of the subtleties of the novel may have been lost on me; it made me think about the process of fiction and wonder whether the novel was imitating life, or life was imitating the novel, but I never really came to a conclusion on that. However, it did offer an insight into the mind of an author, and I wondered if this perhaps was giving me an insight into the mind of Muriel Spark.

Have any of you read this? And what thoughts did you have about it?


  1. I find it curious that I preferred this to A Far Cry to Kensington, which was diametrically opposed to your findings. I think what I enjoyed about this so much was the nature of fiction and of the writer; I also enjoyed the insight given into publishing by both novels.

  2. I have read it as well and I quite liked it. I think it is on the more satirical/humorous end of Sparks' output. The story of this one sticks in my head much better than Far Cry, but I do remember liking it. Sparks' novels really cover the spectrum from the serious (Mandelbaum Gate) to the freaky (The Driver's Seat) to the suspenseful (The Public Image) to the slightly madcap Loitering with Intent. Through it all, or underneath it all I think Sparks is one fabulous, subversive Lesbian always turning things on their sides.

  3. I just bought this book. I believe Thomas recommended it. Thanks for the review.

  4. Claire - that's strange isn't. But you're right, both books did give a good insight into the publishing industry.

    Thomas - yes, there is a whole spectrum of novels out there - I don't think you could be bored reading your way through Spark.

    Diane - I hope you enjoy it.

  5. I want to read more of Muriel Spark. The new covers are very attractive! I loved The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie so I have no doubt her other books will delight me!