Monday, 26 October 2009

the event [saer]

The Event opens in gripping fashion. After a virtuoso description of a wild flock of horses, careering across the Pampas, the narrative shifts to mid 19th century Europe, recounting the adventures of Bianco, a Maltese anti-matter wizard. Bianco can not only bend spoons, he can also read minds and see beneath the surface of the stuff the world knows as matter. Bianco, the novel assures us, is no charlatan. So powerful is he that the mysterious but reactionary positivists gang up on him in Paris, arranging an event where they ridicule him, eventually forcing him to flee Europe for the quieter waters of Argentina.

All of which is narrated at a lick, with the text proving to be both metaphysical speculation and gripping yarn. However, the pace changes as Bianco settles in Argentina, as he abandons his experiments, flirts with becoming an entrepeneur, and grows suspicious of his young, pregnant wife.

The narrative becomes increasingly enigmatic, or hermetic, as it traces Bianco's journey, a journey that appears to be leading him towards a loss of his gifts as well as a loss of faith in the world. There's something a little frustrating about the way Saer lets his story drift away, ending on an abrupt note, the author taking care to construct a narrative which is wilfully anti-dramatic. Perhaps Saer, like his leading character, suspected that his novel possessed hints of greatness, but shied away from fully grappling with the consequences of what this greatness might really mean, or even what form it might have taken.

No comments: