19 September 2014

Loitering with Intent, by Muriel Spark

I am a big fan of Muriel Spark -- even though very few of her novels are truly great (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie most certainly is though), they are always bizarre and strangely fascinating and never a waste of time. Even the rather bad ones are kind of wonderful. Loitering with Intent is pretty excellent, but it's also a book that you will appreciate more if you know something about Spark's life, and feel some attachment to her as a person. Because the novel feels very autobiographical, an effect that is wonderfully complemented by the way the plot plays with a gradual blurring between fiction and reality, describing the adventures of a young woman who is writing her first novel and finding it coming to life, partly in mysterious or uncanny ways, partly because someone is actively imitating it. It's a very weird story, but if also has a curious plaintive quality rather than the usual droll flatness of her other books.

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