cover image Motion Sickness

Motion Sickness

Lynne Tillman. Poseidon Press, $18.45 (204pp) ISBN 978-0-671-73028-4

The nameless narrator of Tillman's second novel (after Haunted Houses ) is a young American traveling through Europe--from Istanbul to London to Amsterdam to Crete to Paris and back again. She lives in the travelers' void where identities are amorphous and friendships fleeting and often explosive. Her stream-of-consciousness non-record of her trips (since she writes only postcards, which are often not sent) reveals only indirect clues about her. Instead we hear her experiences and reflections, and meet her travel buddies: Jessica, an American whose English husband has left her; the English brothers Alfred and Paul; ex-New York City policeman Sal; and Clara, an older German lesbian living in Barcelona. Our tour guide's father has died recently, the probable cause of what at times seems a search, at other times, a running away. Her locales change seemingly on whims and her narrative follows in the same vein--if something reminds her of London, that's the next remembrance. Everything we hear is filtered through her mind: ``One remembers even the recent past so imperfectly and so much in relation to oneself that every object is skewered upon one's own identity, like a kind of shish kebab.'' She's living in a world of very little structure, which is successfully--almost too well--reflected in writing that, although often lyrical and at times poetic, also lacks a focus. The result produces a frustrated reader, detached from a distant narrator who won't reveal herself--or let us empathize. (Apr.)