Wednesday, January 09, 2019

"Asymmetry", a novel that befuddles, yet works

This book by Lisa Halliday was published 10 months ago and has been widely reviewed.  The reviews read here could be summarized like this.  "WTF, not to be a spoiler, I like this book."  Meaning that reviewers did not know what to do with this book, although knew that their review should be positive.  The two stories are to some extent incoherent stream of consciousness rambles that over time coagulate into something that makes sense.  The first story, Folly, has a quote to begin, "We all live slapstick lives under an inexplicable sentence of death...".   It does develop as a story line that has reasonable sequencing, almost like a play that works better on stage than in print.  The second story "Madness" has a starting point that quickly vanishes into a haze of disorienting events. Its initial quote is "Our ideas about the war were the war".

This is a book that is about the writing.  There are relationships, family issues, unexpected turns, political events, all of the components of many novels.  Done with sensitivity, irony, humor, yes humor for sure, and a touch of the roll out of destiny... Yes, my book reviewer imitation.  It recently was named one of the NYT book review section's ten best fiction books of 2018.

I like this book.


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