The Seymour Tapes Paperback – 2 Mar 2006
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The Seymour Tapes confirms what readers of Tim Lott have long known: he is one of the most subtle and sensitive writers at work today. In such books as White City Blue and Rumours of a Hurricane, the author has demonstrated a masterly command of subtle and allusive prose, along with a refusal to repeat himself in terms of subject matter.
The conceit of the new novel is that Lott is examining a real-life case: at the request of the widow of the late Dr Alex Seymour, he has decided to put certain facts in the public view. Seymour had experienced a life change after seeing a shoplifter caught on a surveillance camera: what was he missing in his own life that surveillance could reveal? He decides to enlist the Cyclops organisation and undertake a revealing overview of his own life--all at the behest of the charismatic American Sherry Thomas. An embarrassing scandal follows, know as the Skin Tapes. And it's this which is (we are told) the basis of Lotts investigation, as the author interrogates Seymour's widow Samantha. As with the novels of John Fowles, Lott becomes drawn into his own narrative, as Samantha Seymour puts the author himself in the limelight, obliging him to be equally as frank about things he'd rather conceal about his own life.
Sex and dark psychology are always a good recipe for a compelling novel, and Lott is as adroit as ever at marshalling the combustible elements of his narrative into a fascinating whole. His self-involvement is a dangerous gambit--and if Lott doesnt entirely pull it off, the final effect is exhilarating. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Tim Lott's previous books are The Scent of Dried Roses, which won the JR Ackerley Prize for Autobiography, White City Blue, which won the Whitbread First Novel Award, Rumours of a Hurricane, which was shortlisted for the Whitbread novel of the year, and The Love Secrets of Don Juan. He lives in London NW10.
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Top Customer Reviews
Lott sets himself as the narrator, pretending to be writing a faithful account of a factual event at the behest of the widowed Mrs Seymour. The relationship between them is interestingly developed throughout the book, and allows the author both to play with the reader's unease at not knowing whether what is going on is based on fact or not and add a feasible if easy to anticipate twist at the end.
There are times when reading the book that belief needs to be temporarily suspended, but this is vindicated by later revelations in the narrative. The one criticism I do have is of the very end, where what has been implicit throughout the novel is made explicit in a way that feels rather patronizing. Overall, though, this book is an pleasurable and worthwhile, if a little undemanding, read.
Through transcripts of filmed episodes, interviews with family and other associated parties, Lott pieces together the truth behind the Seymour family's demise. Occasionally, Lott crosses the boundary into unbelievability particularly with regard to Alex's relationship with the bizarrely mysterious woman who ensnares him in the covert surveillance game in the first place. Otherwise, I quite enjoyed the way the author played around with perception, and the reader slowly comes to understand the story from different points of view.
The basic idea behind the novel is that Lott has been approached by the widow of a Dr Alex Seymour (who has been involved in a highly publicized scandal.) Seymour's widow wants to set the story straight and so wants a book written.
The scandal involved Seymour using covert CCTV in his own home to watch his wife and two children, which leads to a romantic involvement and ultimately his death (I haven't given anything away by telling you he dies....but I won't tell you how!)
What follows are transcripts of coversations with the widow, Samantha and Lott's own intrepretation of what he is seeing on the video tapes.
This is a highly original novel, written as if it is fact. It plays with modern day paranoia about being watched and who is watching. It also deals incredibly well with power in realtionships and how people can be manipulated /manipulative.
Tightly plotted and can be read on several levels.
If you like this book also try 'Blood data' by Lurey Gibson...you may never sleep again!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Unashamedly aimed at younger readers; Lott dispenses with sympathy for a pithy first person narrative. Read morePublished on 20 April 2013 by Dan Smith