Friday, 29 July 2016

the lamentations of zeno [ilija trojanow]

When’s it all going to end? Sooner than we might expect if you take note of some of the more recent data concerning the fate of the planet. Trojanow’s South Atlantic novel is a breezy, enjoyable read despite the fact it happens to be addressing the minor issue of the end of the world. The narrator is Zeno, an expert on glacial scientist. Zeno is devastated by the demise of his Alpine glaciers, a process which appears to have gone hand in hand with the demise of his marriage. He takes refuge in becoming a lecturer-expert on one of those expensive cruises which takes rich people to look at icebergs, penguins and the effects of global warming at the South Pole. Trojanow captures the beauty and cruelty of the South, as the ship visits The Falklands before heading towards Antarctica. The novel blends surrealism with science, as it seeks to convey the gravity of the world’s fate through the voice of its disillusioned narrator. Zeno’s frustration with the world’s idiocy and his burning desire to keep Antarctica as the last pristine place on earth boils over when he gets into a scuffle with a smoking Chilean soldier. In spite of his misanthropy, Zeno is an engaging host; if anything the book’s jovial tone sometimes seems to work against the seriousness of its content. 

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