Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Friday, 8 February 2008

"adventures in capitalism" by Toby Litt (Secker & Warburg, 1996)

Here are the starts of the first 4 stories.

  • "After I won the Lottery and jacked in my job at the Lab, I decided, in a spirit of scientific enquiry, to spend a year and a day believing everything the ads told me."
  • "Holmes had been pursuing Moriarty for almost three decades (These, you must know, were not their real names and a decade, as far as they were concerned, lasted about five days.)
    Holmes, like her pseudonymsake, was tenacious, melancholic and inspired; Moriarty, like his, was logical and depraved and always evansecent. They were both fifteen.
  • "Mr Kipling, as you no doubt already know, makes exceedingly good cakes; and has done now for about as long as most of us can remember, though it was, in fact, only 1967 that he first came to public notice. What I would not expect you to know is that Mr Kipling is the best friend I have in the world."
  • ">mail
    subj: some pretty wierdshit

Each start gives you a fair idea of what's to come - the surprise is at the start rather than the end. After that the trajectory's often rather flat.

Later stories have more of an arc. In "The Sunflower" the narrator, in a "carnivalesque of Bloomsian anxiety" worries about why he's metamorphosing into a sunflower rather than (say) a cockroach. "Launderama" is fine - again the first paragraph heavily foreshadows: "I have always loved laundrettes. I have never not believed in ghosts. But I could have quite easily passed through a whole life, an eventful one, without ever having reason to bring these two minor facts together". "When I Met Michel Foucault" is the best story of the lot.

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