Sunday, April 11, 2010

Book Club Read: Skin Lane

The latest selection by Simon for the Not The TV Book Group was Skin Lane by Neil Bartlett.  I wasn't going to read this one because I didn't think it was a good fit but at the last moment decided to give it a try since Simon must have had a reason for choosing it.  However, this ended up being a Did Not Finish for me at page 130 of 344.

This is the story of a lonely man in his late forties in 1960s London.  He begins to have a recurring nightmare about coming home to his flat to find a young man tied up and dead in his bathroom.  He becomes obsessed because he can't see the face of the victim.  He starts searching London for young men with similar features to those he could see in his dream so that he can put a face to the body.  When he decides he has found the right young man, I stopped reading.  Did I mention that the main character is a furrier?  That he works with many sharp instruments and spends his days cutting the skins of animals?  And that he has just looked longingly at the skin of this certain young man?

This is the point where I didn't want to know any more.  I don't know what direction the novel ends up taking but whatever it is, imagined or real, I didn't want the images in my head that I knew would be inevitable based on the main character's mental instability and already strange thoughts and actions.  The moment I decided to stop reading Skin Lane, I felt a great sense of relief.  I also wasn't thrilled with Bartlett's writing style in this novel which I think contributed to my willingness to stop reading it.

So, I am going to head over to the discussion for this novel and find out why Simon chose it, why it was shortlisted for an award and what the other readers ended up thinking about this disturbing book.

Washing away the mental dirt with a light and lovely novel,

We are not going to suggest you buy this book.  If you want to read it, you can do what we did and find a copy at your local library.


  1. Oddly enough, this actually sounds like something I would really like. If I end up reading it, I'll let you know what I think.


  2. Oh, dear. I can't not read a book once I've started, but...eeew. Just sayin'.

  3. I think you made the right call!

  4. Claudia - I would definitely love to hear your thoughts if you read it. I guess it's a bit less predictable than I assumed but I still don't think it's something I would have wanted to finish.

    Paige - Yeah, a bit on the creepy side.

    Jenners - Life is short, right?