Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Sight, by Jessie Greengrass

Review by JJ Marsh

What We Thought:

This was a tough one to like but eventually, I did. Greengrass allows her character to meander and ponder and consider the human condition in every aspect.

Relating the plot is pointless: a pregnant woman analyses herself, her reasons for wanting a second child, her reasons for wanting a first child, her inadequacies, her relationships with her own mother and psychoanalytical grandmother. She intersperses these reflections with other discoveries enabling insights into human beings. Röntgen, and the very first X-Ray of his wife's hand. He could see inside.

It's hugely introspective and at the same time inclusive, allowing the reader to develop thoughts and wander off on personal tangets. This book took far longer to read than the page count demanded.

The language arcs and swoops with such grace to leave one awed or occasionally confused.

'Revelation pended, the veil between myself and understanding was in a constant state of almost-rending, and I thought I could see shadows through it, the outlines of an as-yet uncomprehended truth, until all at once the mania crested and what came out of it, in place of elucidation, was agony, my head pinned in a vice, my body hanging limp below it, a disarticulated sack of bones and blood around which my limbs curled, stiff and liable to snap.'

Her analyses of other human-inspectors - Freud, Thompson, Röntgen - provides a wider perspective to this unnamed introvert as ballast to this vacillating between opinions, time and personal philosophy.

Stream-of-consciousness is a term often over-used and patronised, but here Greengrass uses it to best effect. Self-awareness is the only way to X-Ray the mind.

You'll enjoy this if you liked: Mrs Dalloway, Zoë Jenny, Scarlett Thomas

Avoid if you dislike: Self-examining narrators and lack of narrative

Ideal accompaniments: A fried egg, camomile tea and a still pond.

Genre: Literary fiction

Available on Amazon

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