Geoffrey Dutton reviews this transfixing collection of "fictions" by Luke O’Neil that features animals large and small, perhaps the least interesting of which are Homo sapiens.
How has story been told? Geoffrey Dutton looks at the evolving technology of story, from oral tradition to artificial intelligence.
When you look at a mathematical fractal, you see self-similarity; not only do different parts of the figure look almost alike, it looks the same as you zoom in and out of it, its form governed by the parameters of the iterative algorithm that generates it. Can narratives similarly iterate by filling time rather than space, recapitulating condensed or expanded versions of events and examples of themes?
Think of a snowflake forming around a molecule of water clinging to a tiny particle of something, how it blossoms and diverges as other molecules join in, seeking their hexagonal destiny, becoming a perfect thing of beauty. Then think of it melting, its sharp edges blurring, its interstices blotting out until it plops to earth. That’s a story, right there, in full surround. Matter, space and time at play.
Geoffrey Dutton looks at the "book-within-a-book" literary device, as used in the 2015 novel Disclaimer— and his upcoming novel Her Own Devices.