RARA-AVIS: But it gets stranger.....(Don Webb)

Peter Walker (pw@pw.cablenet.co.uk)
Wed, 20 Jan 1999 19:08:02 +0000 Our Don lives up to his rep as being a bleeding weirdo but i have to
say i enjoyed his book "The Double" although you have to wonder if
reading too much borges can be good for you....
I recommend this book but since my recommendations count for nowt
round here i don't suppose that adds up to much..here, anyway, are my
notes....(the things i do for you guys)...
Starts well and holds the interest for the vital first couple of
chapters. Funny? In a self-depreciating geeky sort of way? Good plot -
finding "yourself" dead on your floor and getting into a lot of bother
as a result. Intriguing with plenty of potential. Well written and it
shows that he's put a lot of time in doing the old `short story'
circuit. Is it a pastiche of the genre (oops that word again)
in the sense that it `questionsthe form'?
Normally I would hate that but it's OK here. I suspect
however that he doesn't love the genre in the way I do but sees the
advantages of using it for his own purposes. There is a lot of sex in
the book. Normally I wouldn't mention this necessarily but a. it is an
integral bit of the book and b. It's and education!! (Check out page
40 if you get to read the book --- I'm not sure i understand it
Good chapter headings. There is definitely some weird stuff in
there as well. Has its own take on the fringes of American society.
Check this out (Pg 74):
"I think Vonnegurt is right. He says Americans
shoot each other so often because they are trying to live like
characters in a story book. Shooting is a great device to end a book
or a story. It helps give people beginnings, middles and ends".
Good plot switch mid-way through the book which helps to keep things
zipping along. Quite a bit of the old philosophy in there as well,
which is OK if you like that kind of thing - and I do - but you have
stuff like this to mull over: "...symmetry in physical laws can
generate an infinite variety of asymmetries, and that these
asymmetrical functions are in turn connected through symmetry. This
explains why physical laws are so beautiful in principle, so chaotic
in manifestation." (Pg 130). Make of that what you will but will it
sell? A point worth bearing in mind is that there is a lot of stuff in
here about gaming and computers. This nmay - or may not - be relevant.
The book dips a bit around page 200 when the central character gets
his whole family involved in things and it gets more than a tad
`mystical' for a while. I suspect the conclusion is also a bit worn
out - as if he knew where he was going but not what to do when he got
there - as I said earlier: not too sure of his genre. One `of the
cuff' comment: it brings to mind the book "The Eye of the Beholder" by
Marc Behm. That was weird in a funny kind if way but,
like this one, great fun and very readable. Maybe it is because they
share a similar theme: an `investigation', you see, is ultimately an
investigation of yourself.
Peter Walker
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