The Affirmation by Christopher Priest
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Oh, now, this is a rare gem! :)
The blurb does NOT do it justice. Rather, try to follow me here, because this could get rather twisty, but what we've got is what seems to be a rather self-absorbed man trying to come to terms with personal tragedy, writing a manuscript that is all about learning who he is and getting over a girl, but it soon becomes an adventuresome trip through a bunch of very interesting islands, him having won the gift of immortality through a lottery ticket.
The world-building is all kinds of wonderful and there's very little big action in the novel beause it's fully content to remain introspective, thoughtful, and exploratory. We have two women that feature prominently. One is in the past and the other is one he discovered on his trip through the islands on the way to the clinic that would give him his won immortality.
So far, so good.
However, this is where memory and reality start getting wonky. He discovers that the place he wrote of in his manuscript is all a lie, a fake, but it's our modern London. The islands are "real" in every sense of the word and the new girl and the clinic are getting increasingly frustrated with him, but to make things even worse, this "immortality" treatment makes you forget everything and you have to work your way back.
So should he trust the manuscript or the people who are nursing him back to health?
Delicious storytelling. And it only gets much, much worse, speeding up the reveals in a way that's worthy for any fan of Philip K Dick OR very deep pyschological thrillers, reality benders, SF-element traditional fictions, or any wonderful texts that explore the nature of madness from within the mind of the insane.
Of course, this book is even more beautiful because there's NO definitive answer. Is this or that real? Is anything? Is he mad? Is the world he dreamed up (ours, btw,) fake?
This kind of read always gets my mind pumping, and even though the text itself is always as clear as glass, Christopher Priest manages to pull off one of the twistiest tales I've ever read. So good! :)
This is the third book I've read of his, from The Inverted World to The Prestige, and this one might be my favorite for it's equal portions of clarity and confouding reveals. In it's own way I think it's superior to The Prestige, even though I loved that one a LOT.
I don't know. Perhaps I just love reality/memory bendy stuff more than anything else. :)
Totally awesome. :)
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