Saturday, June 12, 2021

The Beguiling

Toronto: Hamish Hamilton, c2020
275 p.

This book has an intriguing premise: it moves backwards in time, starting at the end of the story and moving back to the beginning. Not only that, the main character is in the same position; she's moving forward but the world around her is going backward. The concept is almost too clever, though. 

Lucy's cousin Zoltan is in hospital after a freak accident at a party. Before he dies he confesses a dark secret to her. Somehow she becomes a magnet for dark confessions from random strangers after that. So a lot of the book consists of these stories of other lives. It's like a collection of short stories embedded into a wider narrative. It works but it's a little confusing and took me out of the larger story. 

Also, most of the stories -- as well as Zoltan and Lucy's own lives -- are weird. Like, oddball and unexpected, hard to parse at times. 

The structure of the narrative was a clever idea, but also confusing and discombobulating. It became too difficult to play along and try to figure out what was happening now, and now, and then. I gave up and skimmed to the end. 

I wanted to like this one, and I did finish it, but I just didn't connect with it. But if you want something mind-bending and literary, strange and unsettling, this just might be it. 

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