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Intelligent - but a little too clever for its own good?
on 14 December 2009
As other reviewers have said, this is very different from Palliser's Quincuncx or The Unburied. Literary and literate, it plays postmodern fictional games with the very idea of fiction and story-telling taking swipes at both Theory (definitely capitalised!) and popular fiction.
I loved the first half where various stories play out over and over but always from different angles, mutating each time they are told and mixing fictional with 'real' characters. But the later half became a bit wearying.
Moving from Victorian pastiche to other kinds of generic and literary burlesque, this has some real gems of writing but I couldn't help feeling that the parts are more than the whole.
If you hate post-structuralist literary theory (Lacan, Derrida etc.) then this might be a book to avoid however much Palliser pokes fun at the reverence with which they are, in some quarters, imbued. Interesting, entertaining, very intelligent but ultimately a little too jauntily clever for its own good perhaps. I tired of this just after the halfway mark.