Other People, by Martin Amis

A young woman wakes up, and can't remember anything about who she is, where she is, or indeed what anything is. As she makes her way through the strange and seemingly alien world that she finds herself in, she comes into contact with different people who either help or hinder her on her journey to discover what has led to her finding herself in this state.

To start with, Mary (as she comes to call herself) finds the whole world baffling, and, since we're seeing it through her eyes, it's not always easy to work out what she's talking about. So for example, when she first escapes from the place where she's woken up, she notices a "calm blue distance, in which extravagantly lovely white creatures - fat, sleepy things - hovered, cruised and basked." In time, Mary learns more about how things and people work, but her sense of detachment from the world and her wonder at its marvels never completely disappear.

Although this is subtitled "A Mystery Story", and there is a mystery of sorts to be investigated in the book, this part of the plot seemed secondary and irrelevant really: or maybe that's just because it didn't feel very important to Mary. In fact the whole storyline seemed superfluous to me; the chief pleasure was in experiencing the world through Mary's eyes.

The writing here is very good; reading the book is a bit like watching a master sportsman playing a good game: it is a pleasure to enjoy someone who's in command of the medium. In this respect it reminds me of Salman Rushdie, who also makes it seem effortless.

Completed : 30-Jun-2004

Released with BookCrossing id : 991-1811834

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