First published: 2010
Page count: 148
The back says: Richard Elster, a retired secret war adviser, has retreated to a forlorn house in the desert, ‘somewhere south of nowhere’. But his planned isolation is interrupted when he is joined by a young filmmaker intent on documenting his experience in a one-take film. The two men sit on the deck, drinking and talking. Weeks go by. And then Elster’s daughter Jessie visits. When a devastating event follows, all the men’s talk, the accumulated meaning of conversation and isolation, is thrown into question.
Written in hypnotic prose, this substantial novel is both a metaphysical meditation and a deeply unsettling mystery, from which one thing emerges: loss, fierce and incomprehensible.
I say: I’m not quite sure how to review this because although the majority of me thinks it was amazing, a small part of me is wondering whether I’m just in love with the way the story is told, rather than the story itself. Things happen, but their significance is only magnified by the fact that nothing really does happen.
Words fail me.
A man watches and installation of Psycho that has been slowed down so that the entire film plays over 24 hours at the museum. His thoughts about the film and time, as well as the people who come and go while he’s watching, were both interesting and at first confusing. We then switch to Elster and Jim out in the desert talking about life and time, and it’s philosophical in a way that I love. When Jessie enters I feel confused. What is her part in all this? Why has she been introduced? And this is where I feel as though thing happen, nothing happens at all.
The event that is spoken of in the synopsis in a sense a non-event; a plot device.
This is where my disappointment lies.
Disregarding that, the prose is beautiful and spellbinding. It flows seamlessly from one fragment to another, only interrupted by occasional conversation. I wanted to stop and ponder all that was being presented, but couldn’t because the language was pushing me forward; urging me to just let it run its course.
And I did.
But was sadly disappointed by the story itself.
3.5/5, and I will be re-reading this in the future.