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This review is from: Consumption: A Novel (Kindle Edition)
Through the characters of Martin Blake and Sara Sexton, the novel explores the notion of consumption - as the creation of identity and meaning through possessions and conspicuous consumption; as the attrition of the consumer when the facade they create replaces their identity and demands ever greater effort to maintain; and, finally, the consumption and abuse of the goodwill of friends and family.
Martin is a brooding character who impacts Sara's life - a charismatic friend who is intrusive, demanding and destructive; one who retains an inexplicable attraction despite being a near psychopath. While the link between the two characters is attributed to shared experiences while they grew up in Hobart, I think it's also based on the excitement of being around someone who is outrageous and who seems to be part of the A list, someone around whom the world seems to turn. At least, till the demands become too random and the cracks become increasingly obvious.
GS Johnston displays a lovely command as he describes people, mood and places. As I read the book, I wanted to know 'what happens next?' I felt involved in Sara's life. While I wondered why she found it hard to sever the connection with Martin after she became involved with Andy, I sympathised with her resistance to the ultimatum she was given.
One element I found puzzling was the naming of the parts of the novel - Green; Gold; Platinum; Black; See Through; Green Back - the first five taking place two years apart starting from 1995, the last in 2008. I suspect the first four parts refer to the colours of Amex cards while the last two refer to disillusionment and new beginnings. I'd be interested to read the interpretation of others.
'Consumption' is an accomplished and evocative work. Recommended.