How can I begin to review this book, because, why would you?
This question format is repeated throughout this strange, stream-of-consciousness style novel many, many times. I have to say that reading this book during lockdown was a mistake. I’ll tell you why.
The premise of the book is that a guy, of an age that we don’t know, moves to a town in Western Australia. He is working on writing a book about the disappearing towns in the area. It’s not clear how he ended up in this particular town. We don’t ever learn the name of the town that he’s in. Everyone always just refers to it as ‘the town’. As I pulled myself through this novel, I quickly tired of the repetition of this.
We follow this writer guy as he tries to learn more about the town and repeatedly fails. He asks about the music that people in the town like, and is met with responses like ‘we don’t know what kind of music we like because why would we?’ He tries to find out who founded the town and why and he’s told ‘the only people who would know are the old ones, but they’re so old they’ve forgotten, so they don’t know either.’ I got sick of this. Really sick of the writer guy’s persistence and his seeming immunity to everyone’s total disinterest in absolutely everything. It was painful to get through and it took me maybe 5 days to read because I could only stand to read small chunks at once before I just felt so sad.
I get it. Prescott deliberately set out to create a tangible feeling of sadness, of hopelessness and of a total lacklustre approach to everything with nothing to look forward to. Well, that’s how I felt about this book. I can’t recommend it, especially now. The last thing we all need is more desolation, loneliness and disconnection.