Sunday, November 06, 2011

Bending Fiction


"Nothing is as central to our understanding of the world, and our conception of ourselves within the world, as the idea of presence.  Yet nothing is more elusive."(p 1)

"P.S. And, by the way Landfall is not a diary of my time in Galicia, and I am not its narrator.  It's a novel." (From Atchley's letter to Fletcher dated February 10, 1998, p 32)

"Think back to that first time you saw the sea.  What fascinated you most was how the earth curved away beyond the horizon and left the eye nothing but an endless guld of empty space to dwell on." (Landfall, p 91)

This short novel(?) is constructed from four pieces of fiction. After a one page preface it begins with a philosophic essay on the concept of "presence". There follows an analysis of the novella Landfall, excerpts from the letters of the author, Atchley, and the novella Landfall. In the tradition of Nabokov's Pale Fire we are faced with the reflexivity of fiction that comments on itself along with the confusion of non-fiction with fiction. Boundaries are broken and the world is challenged with words that do not fall within the structures of novel writing that have developed over the centuries since Fielding and Richardson.
And yet, there are plenty of examples of rebels shaking the novel out of his doldrum existence. In addition to Nabokov, we can look back to Sterne and Joyce; more recently Barth and Wallace among others have bent the rules. This novel is a short example that will entertain those willing to join in the author's imaginative playfulness.

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