Britain's first book blogger (November 2000). This Space is now a major motion picture, or something.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Much thicker in the middle

Toby Lichtig reviews Adam Thirlwell's new novel Miss Herbert and apparently quotes the author's description: "It has recurring characters; with a theme, and variations . . . It just has no plot, no fiction, and no finale." "In other words" says Lichtig "it is a book of literary criticism, which makes us wonder why Thirlwell couldn't come right out and say it."

I write "apparently quotes" because, from Philip Hensher's review, it's clear that the novel is full of such statements:
Thirlwell's manner is full of phatic gestures, ones intended to announce an approaching weightiness that never quite arrives. "To begin again, at the beginning." "In my opinion that is enough." "This book is about…" (repeatedly). Over and over again we are told, by a writer perhaps too young to remember Anne Elk, that "I have a theory…"
Yet, if it is classed as a novel, statements like these become problematic; one can attribute them to the narrator, yet not so readily to the author. In novels, the author cannot come right out and say anything without immediately having it taken away by the novel. This theory does not belong to me.

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