THE ONE IN THE BACK IS MEDEA by Millicent Dillon


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I myself am my own white object against a white wall"" -- this immediately sets the low ceiling of visibility in Miss Dillon's short novel which disquietingly evinces the rejection of life which threaded her collection of stories, Baby Perpetua. When first met in graying middle age Sarah Menaker, her mind ""docile"" with memory subservient, has obliterated the past and is filling her days with busy work -- making lists, shopping, attending lectures to which she's not listening. All of this seems to be preceded by equally unfinished episodes in the past where she was working for a Project, dully and purposelessly, sorting out frames of film; when she lived with a peckish and common young woman; and when she went out briefly with a young man to whom she could not commit herself; etc. Are we all ""starting from nothing, going to nothing""? did she identify (with?) Medea or the Chorus? was she a participant or a spectator? Despite the literal and precise detail en route, all of this is curtained in anonymity and one is simultaneously tantalized and rebuffed by her disengaged ""going to nothing.

Pub Date: Feb. 21st, 1972
Publisher: Viking