Derik Badman's Journal

2020-11-16 08:20

Finished Susanna Clarke's new novel Piranesi yesterday. I was entertained by it, but it felt thin as a whole. It starts out almost like some kind of Borgesian "Library of Babel" type fantasy, but it quickly becomes clear it is some kind of portal fantasy, one that starts on the other side of the portal. From there is is a bit mystery (what is going?), a bit psychological drama, a bit thriller, but also very little fantasy. We never really learn much more about the fantasy world (a vast series of halls filled with statues of all sorts) than is obvious from the physical/visual descriptions of it. We get to hear the theories of the man who discovered it, but there is never a real confirmation of his theories. The whole thing is also written as journal entries, but in that style where you just have to accept that the person writing the journal somehow remembers everything in excessive detail.

The reviews seem to be overwhelmingly positive. One wonders how much that is because of it being Clarke's first novel in many many years and that the whole "narrator stuck in some place he calls a 'House'" happens to fit nicely into a reviewer's ability to spin it in relation to the pandemic and staying home more.