Look at the Dark

Overview

A retired academic and writer is becoming a media celebrity of sorts, appearing on various talk shows to voice his controversial views on human nature and war. While in New York to make such an appearance, he becomes the victim of a hit-and-run -- set up by the CIA? the FBI? terrorists? -- and ends up confined to a hospital bed. This forced inactivity allows him to reflect on his life -- the work he has done, the women he has known -- as various people from his life gather around him, including both his first and...

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Overview

A retired academic and writer is becoming a media celebrity of sorts, appearing on various talk shows to voice his controversial views on human nature and war. While in New York to make such an appearance, he becomes the victim of a hit-and-run -- set up by the CIA? the FBI? terrorists? -- and ends up confined to a hospital bed. This forced inactivity allows him to reflect on his life -- the work he has done, the women he has known -- as various people from his life gather around him, including both his first and second wives. Reminiscing about his past while dealing with his present, the man begins to see his provocative ideas about fidelity, sin, and grace play themselves out in a virtuosic way that could only be conceived by Nicholas Mosley.

Dalkey Archive Press

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Like its narrator, this rather beautiful book, pitched somewhere between the phenomenologically insubstantial novels of Maurice Blanchot and the existential mask-play of Kundera's The Incredible Lightness of Being, smiles slightly creepily but offers no reply. ' -James Flint, The Guardian

Dalkey Archive Press

Publishers Weekly
Mosley won the Whitbread Prize for Hopeful Monsters (1990) and has written 25 other works of fiction and nonfiction centering on philosophical quandaries, political instabilities and religious impasses. This time out, an unnamed retired Oxford professor of anthropology and cultural studies has becomes a talk show fixture thanks to his inflammatory rhetoric: "Of course suicide bombers are the most disliked sort of terrorists, because then there are no defendants from whom lawyers can get fat fees." Visiting New York City for a series of television appearances in the wake of 9/11, he gets hit by a car and, lying in a morphine-induced stupor, envisions the women of his life, including first wife Valerie; current wife Valentina; the one-legged African woman with whom he slept while on his honeymoon; and a young Iranian woman, Nadia, whose own complicated and nebulous history is entangled with his philosophies on fidelity, sin and grace. The resulting narrative has an apocalyptic feel, but Mosley's observations on the power and limitations of human communication are thought provoking (though parallels between the Tower of Babel and two other towers are overdone), and his acerbic narrator never quite gives up hope. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
On a trip to New York City to film a television show, a retired British anthropologist sets off for an exhilarating walk one evening in the city's urban canyons. On a corner, he sees someone he vaguely recognizes standing across the street waving to him; stepping off the curb to talk, he is hit by a car or van and plunged into darkness. He awakens to find himself being tended by a solicitous nun whose smile reminds him of the Mona Lisa-and his ex-wife. Mosley's latest offers a phantasmagoric journey through the darkness of memory and the human psyche, with the narrator probing the shortcomings of love, the anxieties of relationships, the inadequacy of language, the ambivalence of family life, and the absurdities of political life ("You people [Americans] need to have tragedy and terror in order to bring some intensity into the vacuity of your lives"). The narrator flits between past and present as he attempts to make some sense of the ways that his florid memories impinge upon his life, altering its very character and his ability to interact with others. Mosley's postmodern fable may not appeal to everyone, but fans of his Whitbread Award-winning Hopeful Monsters and his other novels will be looking for his newest foray into what makes us tick.-Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Lancaster, PA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The veteran British author's 15th novel is a discursive meditation characterized by signature strengths and weaknesses familiar from such predecessors as Hopeful Monsters (1991), The Hesperides Tree (2001) and Inventing God (2003). It's the first-person narrative of an unnamed British intellectual, formerly an anthropologist with a special interest in linguistics, who has made himself both famous and reviled for his stinging public denunciations of American imperialism. Arriving in New York City one year after 9/11, for a television interview, he's seriously injured in a hit-and-run accident (though he believes the van that nearly killed him was a CIA vehicle). Presiding thereafter over the imminent demise of western civilization from his hospital bed, he's visited by his first and second wives, and the adult son who's making do as an employee of wife #1's boyfriend, a powerful drug kingpin. Conversations, monologues and flashbacks emphasize the narrator's bemusement over the mysteriousness of human beings (nicely encapsulated in a terrific little parable about a search for a set of missing keys), and his rather unoriginal conclusion that language is used by humans to conceal as well as understand themselves. This is arguably an unwise emphasis in a novel that's composed much more of language than of characters and incidents. Only in memories of the narrator's brief relationships with a teenaged Iranian girl and a woman who lost a leg to a landmine, in Africa, and in concluding encounters that follow his return to England, does this story's resolute disdain for specificity yield to a focus on real human experience. The book is filled with crisp, graceful sentences and a smothering senseof last things approaching. In fact, Mosley, now in his 80s, appears to be offering a kind of summing-up. As such, it commands some interest. As a novel, it's redundant and inert.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781564784070
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2006
  • Series: British Literature Series
  • Pages: 1
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Nicholas Mosley was born in London on June 25, 1923 and was educated at Eton and Oxford. He served in Italy during World War II, and published his first novel, Spaces of the Dark, in 1951. His book Hopeful Monsters won the 1990 Whitbread Award.

Dalkey Archive Press

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