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“It’s formally one of the most unusual, highly experimental books that I have ever read. Normally we read a book by flipping through it – page one, page two – and it takes us from beginning to end. Linqvist urges us not to do that. At the end of each little section – there are a total of 399 sections – you’re referred not to the next section but to some other section. So for example at the end of section 33, which is about the year 1783, you’re referred to section 62, which is concerned with the year 1903. What it does is the book becomes this kind of whirlpool or vortex. You lose your bearings. It’s a completely new way of reading a book. I remember, when it came out, thinking this is way more original than any of the novels on this year’s Booker Prize list. This really is a formally incredibly innovative book. In a novel, if someone was doing that, you might think this is a bit of a game, a gimmick – it’s fun but what’s the point? Whereas, as he says, this draws us into this labyrinth or vortex from which it’s very difficult to extricate ourselves.” Read more...
Geoff Dyer on Unusual Histories
Geoff Dyer, Novelist