Grove. Nov. 2014. 480p. ISBN 9780802123107. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780802192400. F
Self's verbose, sometimes opaque narrative fiction (e.g., Great Apes; Umbrella./span>) often leaves the uninitiated reader dazed, and this latest work is no exception. Through shards of paragraphs, staccato-styled sentences, and multiple characters, Self examines the enduring psychological scars of war and humanity's collective fascination with violence. The novel centers on an acid trip undertaken by Dr. Zack Busner, a psychiatrist working in an experimental community whom readers first met in the Man Booker short-listed Umbrella. Unbeknownst to Busner, two of his patients witnessed the destruction of war from two distinct vantage points, one aboard the Enola Gay and the other barely afloat in shark-infested waters after the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. Reflecting on the LSD trip during a viewing of Jaws, Busner muses on the psychopathology of violence from the perspective of both aggressor and victim.
VERDICT Not unlike the rest of his work, Self's new novel is a sprawling puzzle of fiction that will repel the average reader while rewarding fans of the experimental form. Though not necessary, reading Umbrella first will allow readers to traverse the narrative bridge between the novels. [See Prepub Alert, 6/2/14.]
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing