Monday, May 14, 2007

The Effect of Living Backwards

by Heidi Julavits

Although I read it maybe five years ago, this is a book I frequently recommend — in part because it's frequently on the shelf in my library, unlike a lot of other titles I'd like to recommend. Plus it's just a really interesting, weird book with flavors of Douglas Coupland and Haruki Murakami, and even a little Tom Clancy.

What does that get you? Surreal... familial... terrorism... with laughs. Two sisters who hate each other are on a hijacked plane, where they start competing for the romantic attention of their blind captor. Doesn't sound like the kind of story that's capable of providing insight into the human condition, does it? And yet somehow it works, but it's difficult to explain; you just have to trust me. The convoluted plot and psychological screw-turning are kind of reminiscent of an M.C. Escher drawing: there's that quality of convincing realism at war with the subtle (but obvious once you see it) impossibility of it all.

Still not sounding like much of a recommendation? What can I say, it's a tough sell. Best for adventurous readers and risk-takers.

1 comment:

Dolen said...

For some reason, this plot reminds me of Pedro Almodovar's film Tie me Up! Tie Me Down! There is definitely something insightful about how we tend to identify with our captors.