Multiple versions of history collide—literally—in a superbly crafted, enigmatic new story from an author of note.
"I’ve mixed now and then all up,” says Saul Adler, the central figure in Levy’s (The Cost of Living, 2018, etc.) tantalizing new novel, which interconnects place, subject, and time as intricately as lace-making. As the book opens, Saul is crossing Abbey Road in London in 1988, mimicking John Lennon on the cover of the Beatles’ eponymous album, for the sake of a photograph being taken by his girlfriend, Jennifer Moreau. But Saul is knocked down by a car and lightly injured. Later, that same event is presented again with a different outcome, the repetition sandwiching the space in which Jennifer rejects Saul’s proposal of marriage and ends their relationship, and he travels to East Berlin on a research trip. There, he falls in love with translator Walter Müller and also, separately, becomes sexually involved with Müller’s sister. These, however, are merely the broad brush strokes of a story layered with detail and import, spanning many themes, from sexual identity to fatherhood, memory to mortality. In a relatively short book, Levy spins an extraordinary web of connection, a dreamscape in which plangent images like a pearl necklace, a spilled drink, or the petals of a tree recur like soft chimes. What is past, what is to come, and what is real are all for the reader to discover alongside the character of Saul himself, “a man in pieces.” At times he’s a young figure of freakish beauty, at others, older and disappointing, someone who wounds or treats cruelly those whom he loves. Head-spinning and playful yet translucent, Levy’s writing offers sophistication and delightful artistry.
Levy defies gravity in a daring, time-bending new novel.