Monday 13 February 2017

Unheimlich #2

For her spiritual death had taken place some time ago. Her removal to unfamiliar places, one after the other, had so undermined her that only a memory of home, or an illusion of home, had kept her intact for a while.
The Bay of Angels, Ch. 15

The Bay of Angels (2001) and The Next Big Thing (2002) are companion pieces in their way. Zoe's mother's exile is of a lesser order than that experienced by the Herz family, but it is exile all the same. In both novels, too, the dispossession continues into the present. One thinks of Herz's anxieties over the lease on his flat, or Zoe's expulsion from Les Mouettes. These are terrifying novels, edgier than what has gone before. One thinks of Zoe's nightmare, of being imprisoned in a dilapidated, roughly papered room, which has a 'breach in one of the walls, rather like a cat-flap, covered with yet another strip of wallpaper, but of a different pattern' (Ibid.). This is writing of a new kind, inducing unease in the reader of a kind that would 'seem to preclude a safe return to everyday existence', as Brookner said of Sebald's Austerlitz.

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