Fancy

Jeremy M. Davies. Ellipsis (www.ellipsispress.com), $14.95 trade paper (248p) ISBN 978-1-940400-07-5
Rumrill, the narrator of Davies’s (Rose Alley) fanciful novel, lives alone, surrounded by cats. He tells his story to a couple, the Pickles, who are there to interview for the position of caretakers for the cats. What unfolds is Rumrill’s wordy story of how he came to fancy cats under the tutelage of an eccentric and senile Austrian widower, Mr. Brocklebank. Each paragraph of the novel begins with “Rumrill said” or “he added,” and this repetition has a hypnotic effect, nudging the reader deeper into the underground caverns of the story. Later in the book, the narrative is interspersed with writings from Brocklebank’s surprisingly lucid and insightful multivolume system of cat fancying. Brocklebank views cat fancying as an art and philosophy—a way of organizing the world. Davies slowly peels away layers of contradiction to reveal the abstract mental gymnastics Rumrill uses to function in the world. The implied question is whether Rumrill invented Brocklebank, or the other way around? Is Rumrill/Brocklebank insane and simply speaking to a cat named Pickles? Is it all a dream? The possibilities raise existential and ontological issues that Rumrill addresses head-on in the course of his narrative. Davies has written a challenging but exceptional aria of a novel. This weird portrait of an unreliable and eloquent narrator could become a cult classic. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/01/2014
Release date: 02/01/2015
Genre: Fiction
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