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A tale of monomania?
on 28 June 2008
WAR & WAR is a book within a book. For the most part it's the story of Korin the archivist, a somewhat unhinged free spirit, who unearths a manuscript of startling truth and beauty. Korin wants to publish his find on the internet (to make it "eternal"), and so he travels to New York, which for him is "the centre of the world".
Throughout the novel Korin reveals the contents of the manuscript as he talks endlessly to whoever will listen. The manuscript itself - the book within the novel - tells of the world-hopping exploits of four time-travellers and a mysterious other named Mastermann.
I enjoyed the writing style (i.e. the author's use of long sentences): it captures Korin's enlightened but overloaded mind. What's it about? The search for lasting meaning, perhaps? A futile attempt to secure immortality? The melancholy that results from realising that man (no matter how much he wants it) cannot go beyond conflict?...
All in all I'd define it as a pessimistic novel about the final days of a homeless soul whose chance discovery and obsession with a unique manuscript dooms him. Difficult and frustrating at times, though enjoyable because of the protagonist's spirited innocence.