“No one writes books like this any more!” said my friend who recommended Michael Frayn’s Skios. “It’s awesome!”
I’ll agree that I haven’t read many books like Skios. Considered by reviewers a farce, a romp, a comedy of errors, it reads more like a play than a book (a logical jump, since Frayn is perhaps better known for plays, such as Noises Off). It’s reminiscent of some of Shakespeare’s best comedies: mistaken identities, crossed paths, jumping to illogical conclusions.
Yet for whatever reason, I found it to be almost a constant anxiety attack. I quite literally could not read more than five or six pages in one sitting without getting incredibly frustrated and stressed out. I found the writing almost excessively glib, but I could’ve looked past that if it hadn’t been for the fact that every single character refused to act rationally. I spent the entire book wanting just one person to ask the right question and avoid all of the nonsense that occurred when that never, ever happened.
I can see why people find this book funny. As a play, I’m actually pretty sure I would’ve enjoyed it (I do enjoy Twelfth Night and other stage farces). But in a play, there’s more of a suspension of disbelief in plots such as this, when actors ham up their parts in the best ways. In a book version, however, I found none of the characters—a professor, a confidence man, a foundation director—to be comedic in their own right. They were just normal people who, when thrust into a ridiculous situation, went along with that situation in a manner that I found more frustrating than funny.
But to each their own, am I right? It’s also entirely possible that, awaiting my first vacation/return to my hometown/visit with my family in almost a year, I’m excessively temperamental and stressed out even sans outside influences. THANKSGIVING, HERE I COME!