3.06.2009

"Suggestion" is just another word for nothing left to choose.


Lumpy asked me to post this question to y'all literary brainiacs:


"Can anyone suggest a novel or memoir that makes extensive use of flashbacks, flashforwards, and backstory while the actual plot only covers a short amount of time and towards the end of said time nothing much actually happens (say, 27 days starving on a raft in a swamp in the Amazon) (and not including Ullysses)?"

9 comments:

cfp said...

I haven't read it- but doesn't this describe Nicholson Baker's "Mezzanine" pretty well?

Vampiro said...

I don't know if this is what you are looking for, but I'm reading Georges Perec's Life a User's Manual. About 500-600 pages. I'm oversimplifying, but it jumps around inside a Paris apartment building in this one moment in time, describing various rooms, the inhabitants, objects, etc in this moment, but using those things to launch off into dozens and dozens of backstories, flashbacks, incidental tales, etc. According to the timeline in the back, the stories that end up getting told span 1833-1875. I think there are something like 200 characters.

Vampiro said...

Oops, 1833-1975.

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Grendel said...

Bullet in the Brain is a miniature of that but not a novel.

SER said...

Damn! I was going to say Mezzanine, but CFP got there first.

Ian said...

The Loser by Thomas Bernhard. Covers maybe a couple days in "real time" -- guy arrives in town for friend's funeral after friend kills himself -- but most of the book consists of extended flashbacks involving the narrator, the friend and Glenn Gould. Much better novel than this summary probably conveys.

traca de broon said...

Ah, was also going to say 'Mezzanine.'

Jane said...

"On Chesil Beach" by Ian McEwan fits the bill. His "Saturday" might also...

Jane said...

Although, I guess in both of those examples, stuff actually does happen in the present story. (Plenty, in the case of "Saturday")