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Telescope Paperback – 2 Jun 2011
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An author at the very top of his game (Press Association)
Jonathan Buckley's style has a surprising humanity and patience that verges on the feminine ... the result is brave, unsettling and brilliant (The Independent)
Truth, imagination and the consolations of gossipSee all Product description
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Yet there is nothing depressing about the book. He passes the time by reading, watching and writing a journal. Precisely and with great wit, he records relationships and social transactions. He is perceptive in writing about friendship, lovers, marriage, parents and children, and social and national differences. There can be few readers whose experience is not touched by these penetrating accounts. Even the computer-belt rural setting and episodes in Europe are carefully written up, as are references to his esoteric reading. He is concerned with contrasts (here exceptional) between appearance and subjective reality. He is never bitter and sardonically accepts the weakness of those who cannot face his deformity while appreciatively noting kindness and practical love. Despite having the expected human weaknesses, he is an example of sensitive self-control but also an unreliable narrator.
The structure is unusual (I was reminded of `The Arabian Nights' or some eighteenth century novels). A simple story fans out into a dazzling range of glittering threads, digressions and time-travelling. The elaborately punctuated sentences swoop across the page and draw the reader on and on.
Does Buckley's method waver at the end? Yes. Can one forgive him? Yes, definitely.
Having read it for a second time, the same holds true.
A book of gossamer delicacy ,it holds you with allurement and wonder.
Why in the world are there not more writers like Jonathan Buckley ?
There's a good deal in this. Jonathan Buckley writes wonderfully in a quiet undemonstrative way. The humour is subtle and his character observations acure. The protaginist, deprived of a normal life due to a debilitating skin condition, is able to step back and observe his famiily and few close friends with a sympathetic detachment.
But on the other hand, there's a reason publishers promote the Barnses, the Mantels and the Amises. They sell books and bookselling is, when all is said and done, a business. Books like Telescope will never sell in big quantities because most readers want a story and this is really a collection of loosely related anecdotes and observations. I enjoyed and admired it hugely but even so, felt the lack of plot begin to grate towards the end.
Nevertheless, Mr Samson did persaude at least one reader to step outside the closed circle and I will certainly read more of Mr Buckley in the years to come.