Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Experimental Psychological Fiction - 3 novels that will mess with your mind

The Way Through Doors (M)
by Jesse Ball"Municipal Inspector Selah Morse rushes to the aid of a young woman struck by a taxi. He takes her to a hospital, where he is told her only injury is that she has lost her memory. A doctor tells Selah that he must not let her sleep, and he must help her regain her memory, but neither Selah nor the woman even knows her name. So Selah tells her stories through the long night, in the hope that the stories will trigger her memories. His stories often sound like folktales or fairy tales, and some contain maxims or morals. Some intersect with the Lewis Carroll-like sense that the author creates of a New York City where some people may be ideas instead of corporeal beings. Some of the stories are retold from the perspective of another character. But all deal with facets of being human: love, jealousy, or notions of honor. The Way through Doors is heady stuff. It's charming, lyrical, fanciful, and funny, and it invites a suspension of disbelief that may be a tonic for our parlous times" - Booklist

The Time of Our Singing (M)
by Richard Powers"A magnificent, multifaceted novel about a supremely gifted -- and divided -- family, set against the backdrop of postwar America. On Easter day, 1939, at Marian Anderson's epochal concert on the Washington Mall, David Strom, a German Jewish emigré scientist, meets Delia Daley, a young Philadelphia Negro studying to be a singer. Their mutual love of music draws them together, and--against all odds and better judgment--they marry. They vow to raise their children beyond time, beyond identity, steeped in song. But their three children must survive America's brutal here and now." - publisher

"Powers' (Ploughing the Dark, Galatea 2.2) celebrated intellect is fully evident in this sweeping story as he forges unlikely connections between race and physics, and music and time. But behind Powers' intimidating brain is a heart too often overlooked, and even as the narrative artfully switches tenses and folds back upon itself (reflecting the knotted shape of time), this remarkable novel sings from its tortured soul as much as from its polyphonic mind." - Booklist

Identity (M)
by Milan Kundera ; translated from the French by Linda Asher"There are situations in which we fail for a moment to recognize the person we are with, in which the identity of the other is erased while we simultaneously doubt our own. This also happens with couples--indeed, above all with couples, because lovers fear more than anything else "losing sight" of the loved one. With stunning artfulness in expanding and playing variations on the meaningful moment, Milan Kundera has made this situation--and the vague sense of panic it inspires--the very fabric of his new novel. Here brevity goes hand in hand with intensity, and a moment of bewilderment marks the start of a labyrinthine journey during which the reader repeatedly crosses the border between the real and the unreal, between what occurs in the world outside and what the mind creates in its solitude." - publisher

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