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Mystery set in the fictional city of 'Bleston', a thinly disguised Manchester, where Butor worked for a while in the 1950s.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Amazon.com: 1 reviews
A post-modern, literary, mystery novel...
29 June 1998 - Published on Amazon.com
9 people found this helpful.
I have to preface my review of Passing Time with the words, "though I'm not usually a reader of mysteries or a fan of puzzles...." This book is on some important level both a mystery and a puzzle, even though its unsuspecting reader may not set out with the intention of reading mysteries or solving puzzles. Passing Time exists within the boundaries of some literary tradition which I dislike calling post-modern but lack a better alternative--a tradition that allows an author to make use of such disruptive narrative tricks as nested or crisscrossing frames of reference, stories-within-a-story, and disjointed time. The novel's title hints at its theme--time. Its presentation of events in time is profoundly disrupted. The time spanned by the primary narrative is one year, perhaps a year in the 1950s. The place is a city in England, perhaps Manchester. Though it plays with time-sequences, Butor's novel is not science fiction. In fact there would be no point in mentioning science fiction at all except that Passing Time seems to have influenced a massive and literary sci-fi novel from the 1970s, Samuel Delaney's Dhalgren. Not only do both novels use all the disruptive devices listed above, but they use them in similar ways. This fact in itself is not an indication that Passing Time influenced Delaney when he was working on Dhalgren. But there are other similarities (for example, the metaphors both writers used when describing the sky) that indicate that the earlier novel did influence the later one. A reader who has read them both is likely to finish each with a feeling that there is a literary puzzle to be solved by a second (or possibly a third) reading. But what a difference the two decades between their writing made! Passing Time leaves the reader with a greater assurance than Dhalgren that the puzzle has an actual solution. Passing Time has yet another advantage: you could lend it to your mom!