THE DISCOVERY OF LIGHT by J.P. Smith

THE DISCOVERY OF LIGHT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Smith's toniest nightmare thriller yet (The Blue Hour, 1989, etc.) is aptly described, in one of innumerable self-reflexive comments, as a mixture of the roman nouveau with the conventions of the roman policier. Two years after he's swept his London editor off her feet and into marriage, Boston academic David Reid quarrels with Kate and watches her pack her bags for New York; two weeks later, he gets news that she's fallen (or jumped? or been pushed?) under a subway. Determined to clear up the mystery of her death, David uncovers her romance with French author Marc Rougemont, whose novel she'd given up trying to translate, and her possible pregnancy by Marc. At the same time that his resentment of Marc as the Other Man is growing, he's taking up the same position himself when he rescues Denise Casterman from her abusive, jealous husband--a judge who responds by tailing David, phoning him anonymously, and threatening to go to the police with evidence that he's killed Marc. But has David really killed Marc? In fact, is Marc even dead? Instead of developing a plot giving easy answers, Smith unfolds a series of intriguing, often maddeningly artsy analogies with the processes of memory and writing and the life and work of Vermeer (one painting looms especially portentously) that serve notice early on that you'll be left with more questions than answers. Reminiscent of early Robbe-Grillet and John Hawkes, this is easily Smith's most tenuously spun novel to date.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-670-83903-5
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1991