Fiction is at once real and imaginary. Not real at one moment and flickeringly illusory the next, like the fading pulse of a dying man, but both at once, as if a ghost had a pulse. Fiction is one giant pseudo-statement, a fact-checker’s nightmare. Like one of our own lies, it can be completely “wrong” about the world and yet completely revelatory—completely “right”—about the psychology of the person issuing the error. Thus, one of fiction’s most natural areas of inquiry, from Cervantes to Murakami, concerns states of confusion, error, or madness, in which a character’s crazy fictions become intertwined with the novel’s calmer fictions, and the reader’s purchase on the reliable world becomes intermittently tenuous. Think of Kafka’s story “The Judgment,” which opens with a young man writing a letter to his old friend, who has gone to live in St. Petersburg, only to end a few pages later by putting in doubt whether such a friend exists at all.
John Wray y otra gente en el metro leyendo Lowboy.
John Wray’s third novel, “Lowboy” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux; $25), an account of one climactic day in the life of Will Heller, known as Lowboy, a sixteen-year-old paranoid schizophrenic, who has gone off his medication, eluded the staff at the clinic that was looking after him, and is riding the subway trains, convinced that the “world’s going to die in ten hours.” Lowboy’s chiliasm is obscurely meshed with fears of global warming. He wants to stop what he calls “the temperature games,” and thinks he may be able to cool the world down by cooling down his and other bodies. He leaves a letter in code for his mother, whom he calls Violet. Decoded by the police, it runs, in part, “I WANT TO OPEN LIKE A FLOWER VIOLET. LIKE A FLOWER DOES IN POETRY. I THINK THAT MIGHT HELP AS THE WORLD IS INSIDE OF ME AND THAT WILL / MIGHT HELP TO COOL THE WORLD. POSSIBLY. BODIES WILL HAVE TO GET COLD NOW VIOLET.” Neither Will’s mother nor Detective Ali Lateef, both of whom are trying to track him down, has much of an idea what this might involve, but Lateef fears violence, since Will was committed to the Bellavista Clinic, a year and a half ago, for pushing his girlfriend, Emily, off a subway platform.
John Wray, presentación de Lowboy, Metro NY. Me gusta mil veces más esto que las presentaciones snobs de la Librería Rosario Castellanos en la Condesa.