A heavily embroidered coming-of-age tale.
With its unstoppable word flow, footnotes, classical shadowing and dual narrators, Dixon’s debut is an energetic, self-absorbed bag of tricks. Its preoccupation is a curious book group, the Lacuna Cabal Montreal Young Women’s Book Club, which aims to live out, as far as possible, the story of the book under consideration. Currently it is meeting on the top floor of a disused warehouse owned by Anna, whose lover Dumuzi and his roommate Coby—who recently fell in love with book-group member Emmy—are co-opted into the group to help act out the book its members are currently “reading.” The book is one of the world’s earliest, the Epic of Gilgamesh, introduced in the form of ten stone tablets engraved with cuneiform lettering which Runner, another member, reads aloud in translation. When Runner dies suddenly, her younger brother Neil takes the tablets and stows away on a ship, unknowingly tracing Gilgamesh’s steps to Bahrain. Also woven into the fitful story line are themes of sexuality (Anna is experimenting with prostitution), surrealism (Emmy is striped) and politics (it’s 2003 and the Iraq war is under way), all adding to the sense that this diffuse first novel would benefit from greater focus and less indulgence.
Full of sound and fury, yet inconsequential.