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Time slips

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  • Time slips

    I'm drawn to fictions dealing with slips in time. Like "slip" newspaper editions whose variant pages are for particular parts of the country, they somehow acknowledge different realities, sharpening the edge of where we currently find ourselves in the multiverse. I've never greatly enjoyed the work of Ian McEwan until now. All that mannered cruelty left me cold, seeming like a too-polished writing exercise, in which what was dissected under the microscope of his vision were not emotions, but laboratory postures and attitudes. But I read "Atonement" recently and thought, wow, he's grown up. It is a novel in which what never happened 'in the here and now' is made powerfully more real than the course which the main character's life actually took. Yes, it's unabashedly emotional, perhaps even manipulatively so; yes, it perpetuates the British post-modern obsession with writing about writing. But it's far less tricksy than any of his previous work, despite the intricacies of perspective the plot weaves around a young woman's life at the start of the Second War. And he's brave enough to break out of his previous rather cynical mould, and put real emotion on the line. It's made me want to read his new book, at any rate. Worth a go.
    Also recently re-read: well, re-read and completed after I'd picked up a rare library copy at a friend's house in the late '80s, got half-way through, and ever since attempted to find and finish it: Julian Jaynes's "The Origin Of Consciousness In The Breakdown Of The Bicameral Mind." You don't have to agree with it all, or even AT all, to be challenged by this breathtakingly bold piece of psychological archaeology. Our avatars, our gods, our minds, our awareness - I can't fail to see how this book will make you look at each and every element of these, within you and within our cultures and civilisations, in a new questioning light.