7 thoughts on “The Memoirist – Neil Williamson

  1. One

    “He claimed to believe in truth. Real, true truth.”

    Not fake news or alternative facts. Nor indeed alternate or parallel facts. But do you believe MY truth about this book?
    It is real truth, our real world in the nearish future, about this lady who tattooed herself on stage in the 1990s as part of a rock group and she is now 67 with a see through blouse, having her memoir told by the lady memoirist narrator, during a meeting in Paris, a Paris existing within a world of now settled surveillance including tiny inner-room drones or ‘bees’ as spies. A world where real meetings are face to face not face to face like this meeting in Paris. The first pair of faces in real meetings being more like FaceTime today, I guess. One with sliders and other sophistications of technology…………..
    But I pause there as I do not intend to itemise further the plot spoiler for spoiler, but just tell you my reactions whenever I come back to this book to read it. A promising start, though.
    The fact that I preternaturally-in-prophecy choose a particular book in the first place to real-time review means it’s a good book already. I’m a bit instinctive like Trump, I guess, in that regard. You see, I already know this author is a great author, a great man, a truly great man believe me. Proticks or perticks.

  2. Two

    “Half the time your physical location was the last thing people needed to know.”

    If you lived then, you would have not needed to tell people that. They would know already.
    This book is perhaps a Way Back Machine itself, even believing that such a website would still be going now – or, should I say, then? If now or then can be used in the future, our future, when reading this?
    The tiny drones or bees are like swarms that darken the sky. Amazing concept of settled surveillance that makes me feel paranoiacally that I need to escape them, in case even the book’s words about them – and the letters forming such words – crowd in like such drones themselves.
    And I am intrigued at what happened so amazingly, so reconditely, in Glasgow during the mentioned gig that the memoirist as our narrator seeks info on, an era when Elodie, the band’s leader, for whom the narrator is doing a memoir, was much younger. This book makes ME feel I have Alzheimer’s. Perhaps I have. How would I know? I am roughly the same age as Elodie would be then, is now. Probably older, like Gordon.

  3. Three

    “The word was a boulder.” Then “a tumbling scree…”

    Williamson never disappoints with his flick of the quiff of SF language that beguiles as well as poeticises the sometimes hard future. Here with a theme and variations – writ upon the spine of a compelling intriguing plot – and an extrapolation upon what we all do on the dreamcatching Net today, with all its clouds and smart drives, and cute manipulations of communication amid secret flames.
    I need an aide mémoire to help me remember this chapter, amid new characters, like the narrator’s paradoxically unforgettable mother, and the narrator’s ability to transcend a gameworld with her bespoke sneakery, travel through hard time by train as well as soft time by homespace, the sense of entitlement to apotheosise accretive info, a song that out-pans, I infer, an erstwhile Glasgow gig’s pandemics, “data arrest”, “deviant. Defiantly”, “data skimmers”, “comfort gaming”, ‘the limits to anthropomorphism’, the ticking off of fulfilment ticks of some nature I’m still trying to work out, and an over-sized bee in my bonnet about imagination that flops about vestigially… maybe. Whether that bee is acute enough to see things beyond my aide mémoire in media res, I’ll let others decide when comparing my review with the book it is reviewing.

    (Just for the record (or personal memoir), I read much of this chapter while in the dentist’s waiting room and wrote the above review after nearly two hours of specialist treatment,)

  4. Four

    “It’d be like living in a cloud of permanent security.”

    Not only a single cloud but layers of them? You know when I started this review by writing: ‘Not fake news or alternative facts. Nor indeed alternate or parallel facts. But do you believe MY truth about this book?’ – I did not know how significant that would become. I am either prophetic or lucky (and this applies to much of my dreamcatching, I boast).
    The audit trail of this plot now travels in mind-boggling directions, mind-boggling that it can be so mind-boggling but still comprehended by my ageing brain ……. or, rather, thus comprehended because rather than in spite of the powerful nature of a possibly encroaching dose of Alzheimer’s?
    Firstly, it exponentialises the fear of becoming trapped by an unwanted personal Google-cache that could never be deleted… now taken to searingly embarrassing proportions of entrapment and disentitlement to the nth power.
    Secondly, it propounds a schemata of fiction and reality that if I tried to explain here would spoil reading this book.
    And thirdly, we subtly enter the poetic music brain of classic Williamson about which seasoned readers of his work will comprehend what I mean by that. Here, that authorial characteristic explains with oblique power what happened at Elodie’s Glasgow gig all those years ago…

    (Another personal memoir: I happened to be hearing Richard Strauss’s ‘Four Last Songs’ when I read this text’s discrete sentence today: “The last song.”)

  5. Five & Six

    “The masses want a car chase,…”

    And this pair of relatively brief chapters is far from a car chase finale, but a coda, one that is. to quote the book itself, ‘probabilistically congruent’…’an unstoppable probability cascade’ …
    But there is a mass clumping of bees in pursuit, even one of them sneaking into the narrator’s cleavage, I infer. You will not forget such images, or the implications, and the ticks accrued from having read this novella at all.
    And the growing significance of Chris Moore’s striking artwork not featuring things that look like bees at all….
    More like ticks trending? (Google ‘tick’ image and you will see the resemblance.)

    “I rolled the gig video back, displayed in slow motion the final pan around the audience,…”


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