"What I shall want from you are your eyes ..." A writer, blinded in a car accident, employs someone to help write his new book--but not as a mere scribe. "The world was designed to be seen", the writer insists and so he requires:
"Someone whose eyes will take the place of mine. Someone capable not only of observing the world for me but of communicating his observations to me so that I can then transmute them into prose. Into my prose."
So begins the strange symbiotic relationship between the two protagonists of A Closed Book
, a relationship that becomes increasingly disturbing and unsettling. Recounted entirely in finely realised dialogue and what seems to be interjections of internal monologue, the reader is confined entirely to the realm of sound, to voices, as if we are being asked to privilege the evidence of the ear over that of the eye, to experience the world from the point of view of the blind writer himself. As the book progresses, however, typographical and factual oddities accumulate, clues towards a darker design that is made manifest in the book's final twist, where questions raised earlier-- of trust, of real and figurative blindness, of self- regard (in both senses), of the power of language--are recast from a brutally different perspective.
Gilbert Adair previously won the Scott-Moncrieff prize for his extraordinary translation of the late Georges Perec's A Void--a novel composed without the letter "e"-- and some of that author's wit, allusiveness and self- conscious artistry find their way into Adair's new book, transmuted into something altogether more sinister. This is a powerful psychological thriller, well-paced, energetic (and occasionally very funny) but it also incorporates some subtle philosophical and literary questions into its narrative: How far can we believe what we read (or hear) and how does a reader's trust in a writer's fictional world equate with the trust required in allowing someone to interpret the world for us? See for yourself. --Burhan Tufail
About the Author
Gilbert Adair has published novels, essays, translations, children's books and poetry. He has also written screenplays, including The Dreamers
from his own novel for Bernardo Bertolucci.
--This text refers to an alternate