Thursday, February 16, 2006

Backwards novels

are a thing I love, and Jenny Turner's LRB essay "Charging about in Brogues" confirms the sense I've already gotten that I can't wait to read Sarah Waters' The Night Watch:

Because the novel tells its story backwards, its point of origin comes right at the end, in a short series of little explosions, moments of compressed heat and intensity, during the first, apocalyptic Blitz of 1941. These explain the condition we found our protagonists in at the beginning, wandering in circles, picking at broken pieces. The backwards movement also allows what might otherwise have been a formless and depressing story to close on a moment of joy, as something 'fresh and unmarked' is discovered, miraculously, at the centre of one horrible big bang. There is something of Mrs Dalloway in this ending; something, too, of Cornelia Parker's exploded shed. There is nothing at all of Martin Amis's Time's Arrow, although both novels share an interest in seeing broken things swooshed back and made whole.

I must see if I can get an advance copy from the US publisher, it is only being published in late March here....

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