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.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

"White" by Marie Darrieussecq (faber and faber, 2005)

It's 2015. Edmée Blanco (married, childless, post-trauma) and Peter Tomson along with others are on their way to an Antarctic station. They arrive in different ways, the stories of their journeys interspliced.

The narrators are ghosts (1st person plural) who aren't passive - "In order to modify the course of an asteroid that threatens the Earth, humans do not send up rockets to destroy it because that would create millions of small, uncontrollable projectiles. Instead, by gentle touches, as in a game of cosmic billiards, they strike at objects and alter their courses gradually. And so do we. We proceed tentatively. In front of the heating system, two childhood memories burst into Peter Tomson's glacial mind" (p.36). The ghosts manipulate. We get some backstory, some description of characters interacting (or not) in an isolated establishment. There's not much action. The surrounding take effect

It is geographical. It is geometrical. It is very simple. Peter Tomson will have another thing less to worry about. The sound of a forest in his ears. In his eyes, a wandering circus with giraffes and elephants: a ship, an ark pitching on the horizon; and bears, dancing to the music, and harlequins walking on their heads. The sun is linked to the ground by a semicircle, a rainbow, but a white one, an arc of pure light which draws downwards, striving to crack the ice. Peter would like to soak up the entire landscape. He spins around. Encompass it, at once, understand - the entire landscape (p.118)

While they're there, a Mars mission ends in failure with the death of the landing team. Soon after, the 2 main characters make love out of the blue while Tomson should be on duty. He's not there to deal with an emergency and consequently their mission has to be abandoned. Here's the last paragraph (on page 145)

In the ice-breaker that takes them home, a good three weeks after the breakdown, it is not the pitching of the sea that is making Edmée sick. In terms of food, heat and oxygen, the conditions are right: it is with total indifference that the inevitable event occurs. The blood circulates, the sea is smooth, the Earth spins, and at both poles all is calm and white

Other reviews

No comments:

Post a Comment