The Book of Intrusions

Desmond MacNamara, Author Dalkey Archive Press $19.95 (213p) ISBN 978-1-56478-041-6
The premise of MacNamara's debut novel is inventive enough: that ``characters from unfinished novels, film scripts, narrative poems and other sources of synthetic personality'' are transported to a metaphysical ``Limbo'' unless they escape and become incorporated into some published work--an ``elevation to Parnassus'' which, in the words of Owen Mountmellick, a castaway from an abandoned draft of a book about the Peninsular War, is ``a place of tedium and frustration for the likes of us.'' Mountmellick, his servant MacGilla and their Irish-American companion Loreto (the last ostensibly escaped from a discarded story by F. Scott Fitzgerald), having fled Limbo, scheme to extend their existence in the world through a series of maneuvers against ``the scribe,'' a figure referred to in the third person who is purportedly the author. MacNamara celebrates his clever concept through a suave and varied verbal facility and elaborate dalliance with Gaelic mythology. ``In essence,'' he states in an author's note, ``this book is a joke about pedantry.'' But as such, it bears unfavorable comparison to Beckett's novel Watt , displaying cunning and erudition while collapsing inwardly for want of plot or human insight. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
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