4 July 2009

Peter Adolphsen, Machine, 2006

I had doubts this novel could be made to work without also giving off a whiff of pretentiousness. Well it does, slightly, but it’s only the moment the narrator is revealed towards the end that saves the novel in its entirety. Machine is the story of the heart of a prehistoric horse, which over millions of years eventually becomes a drop of oil in a car’s engine, which then goes on to become the cause of something else. I wouldn’t call this metafiction, not quite, but the novel curves in on itself sufficiently enough to indicate that Adolphsen is trying to subvert something. He writes with a voice that could remind the reader of Joseph Heller when being both direct and enigmatic; his characters are believable and the minor digressions and infodumps are perfectly crafted and entirely relevant. Breathtakingly good overall, brilliant in places.  PY


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