21 January 2011

A Dream Of Wessex



I'm about 40 pages short of the end so don't know what's going to happen but that seems an appropriate place to review the book - the end might not be, after all.

Cheers to K-Punk for the heads up on this one; it really could be the dreamtext for Inception - I'd be surprised if it hadn't been swallowed somewhat by Christopher Nolan. Maybe not swallowed whole but...

This is Inception if they'd decided it didn't need to be an action film.

It's a simply disconcerting ride; nothing wild-eyed about the prose - I like Priest's matter-of-fact style; things lollop together and then slowly ease apart. There's no quick about turns, even in a novel where allthings are clearly not as they seem... it reminds me a little of John Fowles, though without the uneven sense of literature that Fowles brings...

But A Dream Of Wessex really reminds me of Haruki Murakami's The Wind Up Bird Chronicle - both books seem to share a character: Noboru Wataya in Murakami, Paul Mason in Priest... both of these characters are peripheral to the story, even if the story is largely about them... the main characters' journeys are inconceivable without them, they act as terrible distorting/distorted mirror images...

Both books deal with sex in an uniquely realistic way: we see it as a gentle union and a brilliant desecration, an (actual) violation of consciousness which shudders Julia (and David) with self-loathing, obsession, yearning, fear, hatred and love... people are drawn together for reasons they don't understand; loss is felt literally and symbolically...

I wonder if Deleuze (or especially Guattari) might have read this? I think they'd have smiled.

...you could say it's about Virtual Reality and Dreams and the Collective Unconcious but you wouldn't be right... they are the subject, the great Jungian theme that perhaps just about tips this into the realms of Science Fiction but it's about memory and how it invades the present and sends us scuttling towards the future with imperfect background knowledge...

It's about how other minds are irretrievably tangled with ours and the contortions we'll go through to try to extricate ourselves from the past.. it does hold hope for collectivist dreams, but only just... Soviet Britain dissolves almost as quickly as it arrived... read this now and wonder that, in 1977, the future looked like Mad Men looks now... only with the American sheen-suits taken off and replaced by...

4 comments:

jonny mugwump said...

it's an extraordinary book isn't it?

"but it's about memory and how it invades the present and sends us scuttling towards the future with imperfect background knowledge..."

totally agree and think that Inception has been misinterpreted in the mainstream- the sci-fi elements covering the deeper themes of paranoia and depression. Of course Nolan did film a Priest novel with (the also excellent) The Prestige.

Loki said...

Yeah, of course... I forgot The Prestige was also Nolan's film...(the irony)... wonder if he's read Wessex... i was imagining it'd drifted out of the ether and landed on him...

Viagra Online without prescription said...

so this stuff is like the original text from inception!

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