13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: The Affirmation (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
Christopher Priest is, as I've mentioned in another view the British middle class answer to Philip K. Dick. His work deals with the very notion of self, how we form our identities and how fragile those identities might be, wrapped into a metafictional narrative that acknowledges its own artifice at the very same moment that it celebrates it.
Like the Glamour, a story about the dissipation of identity and surety, the Affirmation takes its narrator, Peter Sinclair and then deconstructs him, strips away his identity and rebuilds it to the point where neither the narrator nor the reader knows for sure who this man is and what reality he exists in.
Peter has some kind of dissociative episode after losing his job and breaking up with his girlfriend. His life is bereft of meaning, so he tries to give it one; first by writing his life out, then by turning that life into a story. Recognising that there is no meaning to life, he begins to fictionalise his life, creating analogues for London, his girlfriend, his family, but finding that the fiction does not directly map onto reality, he finds the edges blurring between one and the other. The fiction bleeds into reality and perceptions are flipped.
The prose is completely gripping. Sinclair could come across as a particularly whiny member of the chattering classes, but his predicament and imagination make up for this. Priest is able to compelling create worlds to the point where you're not sure which is the more real and has things to say about escapism and real life along the way.
The Affirmation is an affirmation of life, just as it is an affirmation of the power of fiction. It is a blueprint for our postmodern lives, and needs to be read.
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Initial post: 12 Aug 2013 12:20:19 BDT
Simon Barrett says:
Now there's a review of Christopher Priest that makes sense - or does it? (I've been looking for one since I stumbled on The Islanders, reviewed 3 August but fated to be buried.) The Dream Archipelago as middle class? Let's say 'evolved' - though (naturally) still primitive. As for 'a blueprint for our postmodern lives', it sounds good - but what can you mean? (Reminds me of the sort of thing that used to be said (and felt) about Godard in the sixties, without the P word. Godard now looks like a spinner of romances.)
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