on 2 May 2004
This is an astonishing performance---and a treat---bursting with vitality and inventiveness and insight. There was no end to the sentences that I read again, and aloud, with relish. But perhaps the most important is this: The author creates a world---several overlapping worlds, actually---that I lived in for several days; it's hard to describe the feeling of a particularly intense dream from which one has to shake oneself free in order to go about one's daily business---but with incomplete success. (There was an article in a recent TLS about the creation of the earth, and while I noted the name Wegener, I was almost disappointed not to see the name of Syme---so complete was the spell). As I saw the remaining pages dwindling in my right hand, I became increasingly reluctant to leave it.
on 12 May 2006
I have to agree with the first reviewer of the novel on just about all that is said. However, I did feel that the novel suffers from being 150 pages too long. By page 300 I have come to understand both Pitt, the main narrator, and Syme, and although I enjoyed the richness of the rest of the book, I ended up feeling that neither Pitt nor Syme deserve such rich attention. The obsessional and dysfunctional behaviour patterns of both men are just too well documented. Yes, we do come into the world with our own sense of what is right, but our intelligence lies in the complex moderations of our behaviour that lead to the successes that both these men evade.
on 22 November 2015
'America.. stood frozen in a strange perplexity.' Markovits is bogged down in strange, cod, vaguely 18th century English. He does it with flair - but why do it at all? Never mind. This American expat can surely write: I look forward to hearing his real voice