Coffey (The Business of Naming Things), former co-editorial director of Publishers Weekly, blurs genre and form in a clever exploration of the ways in which art gives life meaning. He pulls inspiration from Samuel Beckett, framing the book with a sequence detailed in Beckett’s notes and utilizing some of Beckett’s “failed” work, including an unpublished manuscript called “Long Observation of the Ray.” Braiding criticism, biography, memoir, literary excerpts, global terrorism reports, and other appropriated texts, the independent narratives begin to evince similar themes. As one of the book’s unnamed narrators resolves to better understand the obsession with Samuel Beckett—“Why Beckett?”—moments arise in which the multiple narratives fit together. These intersections act as a reminder that, while searching for purpose, “even if you think you are caught going nowhere, you are going somewhere.” The book demands active reading and participation in its abstractions. Ultimately, readers must make the connections between Coffey’s personal reflections, the texts he has culled, and Beckett’s abandoned projects. The poetic deconstruction of language is shrewd and prompts consideration of how a given story is interpreted, resulting in a stimulating and singular work. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/27/2017 Release date: 01/01/2018 Genre: Fiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.