I’ve lost my camera – that’s not what I meant to type at all but that’s what came out. My camera’s batteries are dead and I haven’t gotten new ones yet. That’s the truth, so there’s no new pictures right now.
Anyway, I meant to say this earlier, but another connection between this book and my previous one are the gimmicky first lines.
From Mister B. Gone: “Burn this book.”
From The Somnambulist: “Be warned. This book has no literary merit whatsoever. It it a lurid piece of nonsense, convoluted, implausible, peopled by unconvincing characters, written in drearily pedestrian prose, frequently ridiculous, and willfully bizarre. Needless to say, I doubt you’ll believe a word of it.”
The difference: While both examples worked, as in, they got me interested to read further, the second is far more successful. You can’t say that you write in “drearily pedestrian prose” and be believed. If that were true, the line would read more like this, “My writing sucks.” In fact, the narrative style of The Somnambulist is quite good though I can imagine the semi-constant interruptions of the narrator would annoy some people. (Several years ago, this kind of thing was quite in vogue as being post-modern.) The characters are a lot of fun. Right now I’m about an hundred pages from the end and the story is still interesting although it has slowed down a little. I’m thinking the book is exactly the right length, because I suspect the plot is about to pick up considerable speed and race to the end. If so, it will mean that the somewhat slower middle was limited and about just the right size to establish and develop characters without slowing down too much. The characters are a lot of fun, too -I’ve particularly enjoyed (aside from the two principles) Mrs. Grossmith and Barabbas. Mrs. Grossmith’s late-in-life romance is a great side tale that serves as a sort of humorous foil into real life apart from the unbelievable aspects of the main plot. As unconentional (in literature, in real life it happens all the time) as it is, it grounds the narrative in a reality that you can hold on to. Barabbas, on the other hand, in ensconced firmly in the realm of the weird. I really want to know what his backstory is with Moon, but I doubt I ever will find out. Barabbas’ death scene was one of the best I’ve read in a while. So vivid and so awesome!
I wish the whole connection to Coleridge’s poetry had either been introduced earlier or would be sustained longer. I’m wondering if Barnes is a fan of Dan Simmon’s work, who puts Keats into about every sentence he types. The idea of using another author’s work to influence the drama of your story is one that appeals to me and gives a sense of depth that I enjoy. It also shows off the education of the author, or at least their ability to successfully navigate wikipedia.
Looking forward to the end of The Somnambulist now not only because I’ve heard it is Weird, but also because I’ve finally purchased (being unable to get it at the library, the hold list being so long) The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, the Pulitzwer Prize winning novel from Dominican writer Junot Diaz. It’s about a nerd who refers to his tormentors/bullies as “ringwraiths.” I’m excited.