on 25 September 2009
Provincial college lecturer Larry Went is the disatisfied art world nearly-been at the centre of Neil Coombs' Dark Windows. Accidently becoming embroiled in a battle between sinister forces fighting to either liberate or constrict the collective unconcious through the medium of cinema, Larry becomes a player in a very dangerous game.
As the novel progresses, the line that divides fact and fiction becomes increasingly blurred for both Larry and the reader. Coombs encourages this blurring with a very original use of form that employs cinematic symbols and language as subliminal signposts to encourage the reader to create a 'film', from the text, within their own mind.
Dark Windows is an exhilarating read; deftly convincing and broadly conceived- taking in many cultural ideas and events of the 20th Century, from Roland Barthes to Groundhog Day and the Violent Femmes. Although the novel's sense of humour tells us not to take some wild ideas too, too seriously, Dark Windows ultimately develops into a rather chilling and plausible 'what if?'- and not just for the cinephile, to whom the book is dedicated.
What is the power of mass entertainment such as cinema, and how far can it influence what we think?