Thursday, 16 December 2010

our tragic universe


I've been enjoying reading another Scarlett Thomas book recently. I was ordering something else on Amazon and it popped up as one of those recommendations, and on special offer.

I wouldn't normally get sucked into the offers, but I've enjoyed the previous books by Scarlett Thomas - Popco and The End of Mr.Y. (geddit) so this was a good suggestion.

Now I'd idly wondered who Scarlett Thomas was as I read the other books. They did have some similar themes, and some built-in puzzles for the reader to solve along the way. An eclectic mix of homeopathy, symbols, prime numbers, cryptography, otherworld imagination and some zeitgeisty lifestyle elements.

The stories were written in a style that helped you to get to know the author, and one could imagine some real-world projections into the storytelling.

This latest novel plays around with the format.

I can see that there's large elements of a similar voice in the writing, but it's being playful with the novel's form. Like it's showing you 'behind the curtain' of the novel writing. I could envisage scaffolding and strange cogs alongside the more practical lists of items for inclusion, such as ships in bottles. There's sections that discuss, via the main focus of the story, what it's like to be writing a novel and also making the style of the storytelling self referential.

There's some writers with a style where you think you could converse with them directly; I could name a few but anyone will know the ones that resonate with them personally.

I found this with the previous two books and this one seems to address that point directly by being in a style that could easily be treated as a conversation.

You start to think you know the author, but of course it's the character, but is it the author as well?

I've almost finished it now, and I'll admit that at about the 2/3rds point I did decide to google the person playing with my head. Not exactly doing a reality check, but sort of.

A picture of someone strumming a guitar appeared, and a picture of a black dog called D.

The black dog in the novel is called B.

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