To Read Is to Fly

“To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries.” 
― Alberto Manguel

 

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Christie Malry's Own Double-Entry - B.S. Johnson I am joining my voice to the chorus of friends who love this book. I read it yesterday, when I was not in the best of moods. Johnson's writing helped to lift that haze. (Many thanks to Mark for recommending and lending the book to me. I have now ordered my own copy - you're correct that I want it for my collection.)

As mentioned in other reviews, this is an experimental novel that combines wicked doses of dark humor with many different, and hilarious, nods to the fact that this is a novel. The narrator interjects himself regularly into the text, commenting on the conventions of novel writing as he implements, or bends, those rules. The characters talk to each other on occasion about their being in a novel - there's a wonderful sense of a grown-up version of
The Monster at the End of this Book, as I kept imagining the characters talking to each other, making plans to meet in a later chapter, and generally carrying on their existence within the confines of the novel's pages. And, in a memorable instance, the narrator and the protagonist, Christie Malry, talk to each other about the novel's progression and upcoming conclusion.

The premise of the novel is simple - Christie, a young accountant who is dissatisfied with his life, but wants to work in proximity to money, takes a series of jobs for which he learns double-entry accounting. He soon strikes upon the novel idea of developing his own double-entry system, in which he engages in increasingly grandiose acts of revenge to gain credits against the debits that society owes to him, from small disappointments to large-scale frustration over the workings of society and politics in 20th-century England. Johnson's execution of this premise is hilarious and inventively done. Strongly recommended, especially if you are having a bad day - just make sure you don't adopt Christie's brilliant idea yourself. It could have disastrous results.

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