From Publishers Weekly
Reading is a solitary act, yet the relationship between reader and writer is eerily intimate, a faraway mind locked in a text reaching out to touch another across a silent chasm. But what happens when an isolated reader is so moved by the writing before him that he feels he must seek out his author and consummate their distant love affair? In her first novel, literary scholar Duncker has crafted a moving, mysterious answer to that question. Her unnamed protagonist is a 22-year-old English university student preparing his thesis on the work of Paul Michel, a brilliant novelist now confined to a French insane asylum. "University libraries are like madhouses, full of people pursuing wraiths, hunches, obsessions," he explains. "The person with whom you spend most of your time is the person you're writing about." Immersing himself in Michel's serene, indifferent prose and searching for clues about the rebellious, uncontrollable man behind the text, the student uncovers Michel's admiration for the transgressive French philosopher Michel Foucault. Urged on by his single-minded girlfriend, the student travels to France, where the tragically insane author and his unseen reader meet for the first time and become inextricably involved in entirely unexpected ways. Blurring the line between the historically real (Foucault) and the invented (Michel), Duncker's writing is oblique and thoughtful, a blend of playful narrative twists and meditations on the act of reading, the nature of fiction and homosexuality and the relationship between love and madness. (Jan.) FYI: Duncker teaches writing, literature and feminist theory at the University of Wales. She was born in the West Indies, educated at Bedales, Oxford and Cambridge, and now divides her time between Wales and France.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
A beautifully refreshing and creative work of art. Duncker challenges the status quo using fictitious characters struggling with real issues and societal constraints on love, creativity, and uniqueness. Duncker points out that insanity is perceived as anything that strays outside of societal norms. She also manages to make it very clear that stepping outside of societal norms is necessary to portray a more complete view of what is . . . its the diverse thought, experiences and perceptions of the whole of society that gets us closer to the truth of our collective reality. I thoroughly enjoyed the way the reader/writer relationship is portrayed in the novel. I finished this book believing that any writer worth the ink in his typewriter should hold the relationship with his reader in the highest regard and adoration. In doing so, the reader makes the writer accountable for producing work that will strengthen and glorify the relationship; forcing the writer to write from the heart and soul . . . .the center of any successful relationship.