The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy
There’s this bookshop I like in Soho — I go there to drink cocktails, mainly. Last time I was there, drinking, the shop owner slapped a copy of The Illusion of Separateness on my table, which I took as a subtle invitation to the occasional book buying. So I bought it (I guess I had to) and I read it and I had a wonderful, magical time.
The Illusion of Separateness is a vignette ensemble piece about the interconnectivity of strangers’ lives… Sounds corny I know, but trust me, the novel is beautifully constructed (the narrative and chronology are so cleverly fragmented that it’s not until the very end that one is able to piece the whole thread together) + Simon Van Booy’s minimalist & poetic writing is utterly mesmerising.
I was so hooked on the author’s voice that I promptly moved on to “Love Begins In Winter" (a collection of short stories that Van Booy wrote a few years before Illusion), but before I knew it I found every character deeply irritating, all having the same internal voice (succinct, profound and poetic), sounding too posey & phony… "Do you think there’s an after life?" Hannah said… "I think we’re in it," I said… Rrrright.
I don’t know, it could be that Booy’s hit his stride with The Illusion of Separateness and that fumbling through Love Begins In Winter helped him get there. It could be that I should have taken a break between Illusion and Love (binging is never a good idea, but alas it’s in my nature). It could be that I’m just too fickle.