THE LOST SCRAPBOOK by Evan Dara

THE LOST SCRAPBOOK

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Experimental first fiction, winner in the 12th annual FC2/Illinois State University National Fiction Competition, that offers an engaging approach to novel writing, serving up a series of fragments and anonymous testimonials. Imagine driving through some small unknown city, stopping at a house, going in and listening to the conversation at hand, then moving on to the next house. Or imagine watching television, with someone else in command of the remote control, flashing through stations, sometimes long enough to get involved in a narrative, at other times the image just a wash of color on the screen. This is what Dara's debut resembles, with its frenetic jumps and skips between narratives of various lengths. The text, though, is not written as a series of separate short pieces; there isn't any delineation between the narrators, and a whole paragraph may go by before the realization comes that the storyteller has changed. In this manner, one narrative flows into another, generating difficult reading at first, until one becomes accustomed to the subtle changes, the slight shifts in tone that signal a new story. And the stories themselves are as diverse as society, ranging from the inconsequential rambling of two college students to the panicked cry of a woman searching for help for her choking baby. The narratives dismiss traditional structure, forgoing the usual sense of catharsis, often ending at the climax, leaving the reader dangling and then plunged into some other scenario. The constant shifting could have produced a sense of apathy. But the work holds an interest, derived from the secret enjoyment of eavesdropping on a conversation at a cafÇ, or watching the goings-on in the second- floor window across the street. A fleeting, panoramic view of American life, from the trivial to the heartrending, that offers an unusual approach to storytelling.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 1-57366-006-X
Page count: 470pp
Publisher: FC2/Northwestern Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1995