The Effect of Living Backwards

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( 976 Bewertungen bei Goodreads )
 
9780425198179: The Effect of Living Backwards

Does Alice really hate her sister, or is that love? Was she really enrolled in grad school, or was that an elaborate hoax? Is this really a hijacking, or is it merely the effect of living backwards?

Following her acclaimed debut, The Mineral Palace, Heidi Julavits presents a quirky, compelling new novel about two sisters, a bizarre event, and the elusive nature of truth.

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Review:

The Effect of Living Backwards, Heidi Julavits's second novel, is a mess--but a good mess, an ambitious mess. The title is taken from Through the Looking-Glass, and Julavits's narrator--named Alice--certainly wanders into a perplexing wonderland. She and her sister Edith are flying to Morocco, where Edith is to be married. The plane is hijacked by a charismatic, chubby blind man named Bruno. After a time, the hijacking appears to be an extended moral case study: Bruno forces his hostages to consider whether they would give their own life to save another. The hijacking, it turns out, may or may not be real; Bruno may or may not be blind; Alice may or may not be falling in love with Pitcairn, the hostage negotiator who's supposed to save them all. As she unspools her black comedy, Julavits displays a wildly discursive style; the book can seem overwritten. But as her plot gains momentum, so too does Julavits's writing, and her tortuous sentences begin to make sense: they reflect the awkward situation of the heroine. After a supper of candy and punch, Alice tells us she and her fellow hostages "suffered extreme intestinal discomfort, which made the lavatories more unspeakably filth-ridden, and tempers, whose foulness is always proportional to the decrepitude of a WC, began to fester." On one level, this is an unhappy sentence; on another, its very contortions are funny. So it is with The Effect of Living Backwards, which, in its patience-trying elegance, recalls the underrated novelist Nancy Lemann. This is a brave novel, aggressively intelligent and aggressively silly all at once. --Claire Dederer

About the Author:

Heidi Julavits has published short fiction in Esquire, Story, Zoetrope, McSweeney’s, and The Best American Short Stories 1999. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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