The difference between a fine novel and a mediocre one is often found in the strength of its characterisation. In this respect Ms Halloff does not disappoint, and it is, above all, the detailed and powerful portrayal of the various players in this drama that gives the work its strength. The facility with which she speaks with each character’s voice, not just in dialogue but in her narrative, so vividly coloured with the different points of view, makes the book a delight; and not just the voices of the characters, but those of the various newspapers and pundits surrounding the book’s events. I almost screamed with laughter reading the Transcript reports, with their English translations of Latin phrases; the tone of the tabloid reporter, writing about comments by an educated person which he only half understands, was priceless.
This lightness of touch, with its sprinkles of comic relief, prevents the book’s essential sadness from becoming overwhelming, and allows the reader fully to enjoy its marvellous graininess.
The few depictions of sexual activity were handled with beautiful restraint, and I could only marvel at the writer’s ability to convey the sordid bestiality of a really down-and-dirty encounter without descending into the merely graphic.
All in all, a book by Ms Halloff is a rare pleasure, and Roadblocks to Nirvana is no exception.