Review Novel The Ghost

Kamis, 17 November 2011

The Ghost: Sang Penulis Bayangan
by Robert Harris, Siska Yuanita (Translator)

Adam Lang, mantan Perdana Menteri Inggris, menghadapi tuduhan kejahatan perang. Seorang penulis bayangan direkrut untuk membantunya menuliskan autobiografi yang menjadi satu-satunya cara membela diri di depan mata dunia.
Hanya saja, ketika sang "hantu" alias penulis bayangan mulai bekerja, dia menemukan terlalu banyak hal yang tidak sesuai: tentang awal karier politik Adam Lang, tentang kebijakan-kebijakan politiknya, tentang keterlibatan badan intelijen negara asing.
Dan yang paling mengancam nyawanya: kematian tak wajar McAra, ajudan politik Adam Lang yang awalnya membantu penulisan memoar sang PM, yang melakukan riset menyeluruh terhadap masa lalunya. Tapi kemudian ditemukan tewas di pantai sunyi Martha's Vineyard. Barangkali McAra mengetahui terlalu banyak rahasia-rahasia yang membawa kematiannya.
Gramedia 2008

Saya: ternyata ada juga ya yang namanya penulis bayangan...ini membuka tabir rahasia tentang orang2 yg tiba2 bisa menulis padahal bahasa yang mereka pakai selama muncul di media massa begitu jelek...

An: seseorang bercerita sesuai dengan citra yang diinginkan na tergambar pada pendengar. begitulah kira-kira yang ditangkap para penulis bayangan selama ini. melakukan pendekatan kepada objek tulisan, menyelami kehidupan na kemudian menuliskan na seakan si objek itulah yang bercerita. sedangkan mereka sendiri hanyalah... media. perantara sampai cerita tersebut muncul di pasaran. menjelma menjadi buku yang bahkan tidak pernah menyingggung apalagi menyebutkan nama mereka.tapi bagaimana jika penulis bayangan ini mempunyai kemauan na sendiri, menyampaikan kisah na dari sudut pandang na, bukan sudut pandang objek tulisan? inilah yang coba ditampilkan oleh robert harris dalam salah satu karya na ini. hal yang selalu membuat tulisan na menarik. dengan tema yang sederhana, namun mempertahankan pembaca untuk terlibat di dalam cerita. merasakan keberadaan untuk mengikuti cerita tersebut.

selalu menyerahkan kepada pembaca tentang apa yang terjadi. penulis tidak memaksakan pembaca untuk merasakan sesuatu ini baik atau buruk, benar atau salah. namun juga tidak menempatkan pembaca pada area abu-abu. pembaca bebas menginterpretasikan apa yang ada dengan pengungkapan fakta atau kejadian yang ditampilkan penulis. ntah sebagai robert, atau lebih tepat na sebagai penulis bayangan. tentang apa yang sebenar na terjadi, dan apa yang diketahui 'sebenar na terjadi'. sampai saat sang penulis menyelesaikan kisah na, buku ini ditutup dengan kesadaran... iya, dari tadi sha ga tau siapa nama pencerita ini.dan dia... sekali lagi dalam tulisan na sekalipun, tetap menjadi bayangan. hantu tak bernama.

Fitri: Di buku ini, gambaran profesi Ghost Writer memang tampak jelas... profesi yang sepertinya jarang ada di Indonesia (atau memang benar-benar ada namun sebagai profesi yang ditutup-tutupi dengan sempurna).Alur ceritanya gak ngebosenin... walaupun dari awal sampai akhir, tokoh teman perempuan karakter utama kurang tereksploitasi.

Susy: I supposed this was a roman a clef since Harris was –as mentioned everywhere- a former friend of the Blairs. It’s just a thriller with enough links with what we think is the reality of politics to feel as fact. And he wields a scalpel on them with finesse and venom. An ex British PM is “writing” his memoirs with the help of a former aide who is found drowned in an apparent suicide. Enters a professional ghost-writer, the first person narrator of the novel, whose name we never found out. And then a series of suspicious events make him an investigator in the early life of the PM and wife, and he uncovers more than is good for his sanity. Harris writes well, his novels are entertaining and his characters engaging, so the book made me a slave for two days. The main character is maybe a bit na├»ve and the uncovering of facts through Google surfing appears as a bit too easy but the overall plot feels right. Not knowing a thing about British politics I didn’t find parallels and in my mind the ex PM of The Ghost was someone composed by a lot of Hollywood males. But whenever the wife was mentioned, I saw Cherie Blair in my head.

Will: The Ghost by Robert Harris. A roller-coaster of a book - and not in a good way. I like Robert Harris books and I loved his last one - Imperium. I loved it so much that I was really looking forward to the next in the series (neil h. informed me that it was part of a trilogy). Therefore I was a little meh about the fact he had taken time out to write The Ghost. Damn writers and their need to write a story instead of the one I wanted to read! However, there was branch of Borders shutting down t'other day and they were offering 40% off all books. They had a copy of The Ghost on the shelves and I picked it up - I knew that I would read it eventually, I just didn't want to pay full price for something I might not enjoy. And, it was with that mentality (I'm not going to enjoy it) that I started the book.
But it is a Robert Harris book and, as I've stated, I like his books. It didn't take long for me to start enjoying it. Oh sure, there was the usual cringe moments - this man cannot write a sex scene to save his life. In fact, he can't even write a "sexy" scene to save his life:
She crossed her legs at the ankles, leaned forward to read, and I found myself staring into the surprisingly deep and shadowy valley of her cleavage. But there are the usual page-turning chapters - those moments when you really should put the book down and get on with your life but you just need to find out what happened next.
The story is about a man who is called in to ghost the memoires of a former British Prime Minister, Adam Lang. The Lang character is clearly supposed to be Tony Blair and the author (Harris) displays a great hatred of Mr. Blair. It is that hatred of a spurned lover, an emotion I can understand. When Blair was elected, I was so excited, so positive - I sang along to "Things Can Only Get Better" for the several hours it played, as we waited for him to arrive in London. But it all went wrong. All the dreams, all the hopes, all the beliefs turned out to false. He wasn't the saviour we all thought. He leaves a legacy that is dominated by a war in Iraq. And, it is the reason why we went to war, that forms the cornerstone to this novel.
At first Mr. Harris builds his usual story web. He introduces the characters, he sets scenes wonderfully, he leaves enough clues scattered about to make you feel clever for spotting them. However the ending is rushed. It is trite. The denouement is contrived and a bit insulting. A true roller-coaster ride. I started of not liking the book, learned to love it, ended up disliking it. Of coursem ,y disappointment is mainly because it is a Robert Harris book and I expect better of him (except for the sex scenes). If this had been written by Dan Brown I would be announcing to the world that it is his finest piece of work. But, if it had been written by Mr. Brown, I wouldn't have picked it up. Over at I have given it three stars - I liked it - rather than two - it was OK - because it was a Robert Harris book. But, not his best. To finish on a quote from this book:

All good books are different but all bad books are exactly the same.[..] And what they have in common, these bad books, be they novels or memoirs, is this: they don't ring true. I'm not saying that a good book is true necessarily, just that it feels true for the time you are reading it.

Unfortunately, Mr. Harris, although your book feels true for a good solid part of it, it falls short at the end. It verges towards being a bad book.

Kinu: ada dua tokoh cerita dalam buku ini yang menurut saya bakal sulit ditemukan di indonesia (bahkan saya menyangkanya gak ada). yang pertama tentu saja sang penulis bayangan; seseorang yang dibayar untuk menulis otobiografi, yang namanya tidak disebutkan (tentu saja kalau disebutkan akan ketahuan kalau bukan otobiografi), dan bekerja dalam tenggat waktu tertentu (biasanya ketat). yang kedua adalah agen yang "memiliki" penulis bayangan, yang pekerjaannya menghubungkan "pekerjanya" dengan penerbitan dan memperoleh komisi atas usahanya tersebut. sudah saya bilang di atas bahwa saya menyangka pekerjaan ini sulit diwujudkan di indonesia. nyatanya, dua hari lalu saya bertemu dengan orang-orang dari kedua jenis profesi ini. dan mereka bisa hidup berkecukupan dari profesi masing-masing.

MD: This is a topical thriller with a British Prime Minister politically based on Tony Blair (I have no idea about the personal stuff). At the beginning of his career he was nearly as popular as Obama. At the end, he was reviled as a puppet of the US. He is writing his memoirs, and naturally everyone wants to know the truth about the War on Terror--except, of course, those who don't want their secrets revealed. As thrillers go, this one is fairly low-key--more psychological than action. I really liked the writing--it seemed more intelligent than most thrillers I've read, and contained an occasional bit of sly humor that I enjoyed, such as this:
...I was practically humming "The Star Spangled Banner." Even the guy from the Department of Homeland Security--embodying the rule that the folksier an institution's name, the more Stalinist its function--couldn't dent my optimism.

I bought The Ghost because I liked Harris' Enigma so much and I liked it much better than I thought I would after reading the cover blurbs. I also found it easy to read--in spite of seeming "smart" it was totally accessible and I was able to finish it in a day. This is a book I will recommend to friends.