I s-o-o-o wanted to enjoy Connie Willis’ latest book, Crosstalk, and I settled down in great anticipation to read her latest screwball comedy. The characters and situations are familiar to Willis fans who liked To Say Nothing of the Dog, “Blue Moon”, or the underappreciated Bellwether. There’s even one of Willis’ hilarious lists, this time D. B. Schwartz’ Rules for Lying, peppered throughout the book:
- Stick to one story (p. 78)
- Never say any more than you absolutely have to (p. 77)
- Have a cover story ready in case people start asking questions (p. 108)
- Keep your stories straight (p. 129)
- Don’t look guilty (p. 130)
As well as some insights on the practice, such as”Any sentence beginning with ‘of course’ was automatically a lie…”, and a great quote from one of her faves
It is always the best policy to speak the truth, unless, of course, you are an exceptionally good liar. — Jerome K. Jerome, The Idler’s Club
Having said all that, the book is not fabulous. The heroine lets everyone from her nine-year-old niece to her mendacious fiance jerk her around, and her acceptance as a center of obsessive phoning, texting, and Facebooking exposes her as a lightweight. Everyone with the exception of the (obvious) hero, the aforementioned D. B. Schwarz, is a child of (mainly female) white privilege*, screeching at each other about Princess Problems. The story is overlong, too long to be concluded with the sort of feminist Deus ex Machina resolution that leaves everyone (except the fiance) living sappily ever after.
Coming after the conclusion of her four-novel plus love letter to the rapidly-being-overrun people of Great Britain (Doomsday Book, To Say Nothing of the Dog, Blackout, and All Clear), Crosstalk is a big letdown. If you haven’t read any Willis, start with Bellwether or Doomsday Book, not this clinker.
*Willis is a softcore SJW, whose post-election stance is “I’m OK, you Trumpers are messed up.” Oh, and I don’t live in a bubble. Con safos, chica.