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The Lost Time Accidents by John Wray

If you are, in fact, living the life that
your maker intended - it may be time
to seek another maker.
Yah, so, of course I’ve left too long between reading and reviewing once again, leaving myself little scope to write anything profound or shocking, or even remotely truthful, without recourse to the book itself, now gathering dust and a creeping blue mould on the shelf above the permanently cold storage heater in my bedroom (a good six or so miles from where I sit taking the opportunity to distract myself from a post-prandial slump and slack supervision).

But when has that ever stopped me?

Big and brash, ranging from art to science with major meandering asides into ontology, epistemology, and the character of space and time, Wray’s disjointed family chronicle is fun to read for the most part, if ultimately dissatisfying. Waldemar Toula has become estranged from the linear narrative of time somehow, trapped in a version of his dead aunts’ labyrinthine New York apartment-cum-mausoleum of lost things and visited occasionally by his uncle (or great-uncle? I can’t remember) and namesake, Waldemar, a notable Nazi war criminal and, so Waldemar Junior believes, the key to unlocking the family curse, namely the Lost Time Accidents, a formula devised by a great-great-grandparent which explains the nature of time and which has fascinated his family to the point of disaster through a number of generations. Waldemar the Elder disappeared mysteriously just before the concentration camp in which he was performing time-related experiments on its prisoners was liberated by the advancing Allies and, so it would seem, is ageing rapidly as he bounces through time, appearing older on each arrival in the little bubble of stasis in which Junior writes his family history, a long-form letter to the waspish, flighty and inscrutable Mrs Haven. Mrs Haven is Mrs to Mr Haven, multi-millionaire and head of a bizarre religious group which holds the Toula family in an oddly high regard and which eventually recruits Junior’s own father as their literary figurehead, because of his obsessions with writing short science fiction novels.

Still with me? So far so good.

What it doesn’t do though is hold my attention for any great length of time. I found my mind wandering and at no great cost. There were passages over which my eyes skipped and I am none the wiser as to whether it meant I missed something, as it didn’t quite make enough sense for me to have an objective overview. That said, it’s very impressive, a dauntingly tangled work of scholarly invention and the moulding of history to the convoluted shapes of literary endeavour. I’m almost sure it was even funny in places. I trust my memory enough to give it a positive gloss even if it didn’t push my buttons, so do check it out if you have the time and patience.


How's about that then?

A Bright Moon For Fools by Jasper Gibson

Ah, what would be a review penned by yours truly without some sort of grovelling apology at the outset? A better review no doubt, but that aside I can't help but continue the tiresome tradition with an apology. Sorry to my regular robotic readers (hi bots!) but I have been very neglectful of the blog of late, having been tied up with my pursuit of a broader spectrum of dilettantism; I've been taking part in a number of MOOCs offered by various HEIs on the FutureLearn platform. Worth checking out if you ask me.

(Subtle enough plug, you think?)
Anyway, the break afforded by a foray into further education has proved something of a test for Jasper Gibson and his fiction. In truth, it took me a little while to remember what exactly the novel was about, who was in it, and how I felt about the whole thing. Instant alarm bells. Of course, having had a break, I'd had a good crack at filling my head with a whole bunch of other things worth remembering, so maybe it all just got squeeze…

The Elephant by Sławomir Mrożek

The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin

Engleby by Sebastian Faulks

The first bad thing I might say about Engleby is that for some reason, it put me in a foul mood; as if by some sort of literary osmosis I had absorbed Michael Engleby’s uniformly critical point of view and had turned it on the world and my unsuspecting wife particularly. She was not a happy bunny. The first good thing I might say is that this didn’t last long, especially as the next book I picked up was a Charles Portis novel which quickly dispelled the gloom. Is this a triumph of the suspension of disbelief, of verisimilitude, of getting the reader to buy into the character? Or is it simply because the only point of view we get for 350 pages is that of “Toilet” Engleby himself? It’s hard not to warm to him even if you don’t like him or his fairly stiff opinions, and that must be a victory for Faulks. His protagonist protests that his memory is spotty – spotty enough that the major crisis in the novel is not really uncovered (officially – the twist was so obvious I guessed it from read…