Removing periods, Énard leaves the reader floating free in the liquid of Mirkovic’s consciousness, where ancient and classical history interrupt more recent events. In this realm of eternal time, Mirkovic as a unitary subject dissolves, and across the solitary train journey he gains mythic dimensions, becoming Dante traveling through the rings of hell to a vita nuova; Hermes accompanying the dead across the Styx; and the harbinger of St. John of Patmos’s Last Days, carrying the names of the dead rather than the Book of Life.Around the exploration of these grand themes, Enard's depiction of Mirkovic's comparatively humdrum immediate reality is vivid and equally engaging. He reads a novel about the Palestine-Israel conflict, itself presented in the book (and the only sections involving full stops), which mirrors his own history. He studies his neighbours and imagines their thoughts (again, Marias). He goes to the bar and drinks, admiring the label on a beer bottle. He smokes in the toilet. All this is rendered with the cold precision of crime fiction. Very well done.
Now I'm reading Harry Matthews' Cigarettes. Also note that Dalkey Archive Press are having a sale until the end of May - go shopping here.