Monday, August 7, 2017

The Glamour (1984) by Christopher Priest

The Glamour (1984) by Christopher Priest: Priest is best known for his novel The Prestige, made into a movie by Christopher Nolan, and for taking the piss out of Harlan Ellison with his non-fiction screed The Last Dead-Loss Visions, a.k.a. The Book on the Edge of Forever. Here, he writes a tricky novel that spans the gap between urban fantasy and literary metafiction.

An unnamed narrator begins the book. At other points, we follow the story of an amnesiac London film journalist who's been sidelined for months by injuries sustained in an IRA bombing. Then we follow the story of the girlfriend he doesn't remember. Who is the unnamed narrator, though?

Tricky, though, right? The journalist's memories may be faulty or altogether invented. The girlfriend claims that the two of them possess the power of the Glamour, the ability to make themselves invisible in all ways to other people. She describes a wainscotting society of people with the Glamour, no longer able to make themselves visible to anyone without the Glamour. Is this true? And is her former boyfriend shadowing them at every turn, possessed of a Glamour so powerful that no one is aware of him unless he wants them to be aware of him?

Well, read the novel. It's curiously gripping and repeatedly bewildering in its play with narrative expectations. I suppose if Philip K. Dick and Robert Aickman had embarked on an unlikely collaboration, it might have read something like this. Recommended.

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