Nicholas Mosley – Impossible Object

I thought I would do a bit of research for you. Give you a little snippet of Nicholas Mosley’s life. Unfortunately his Wikipedia entry (What do you want? Blood?) limits itself largely to descriptions of his dad (naughty, naughty Oswald Mosley) and his half-brother (kinky, kinky Max Mosley). This is a shame as, a) If I wanted to know more about those two I would have looked at their own pages and, b) Nicholas Mosley deserves much more attention than the rest of his family do.

It seems we literary types have been less interested in putting things on Wikipedia than other people. This is why, for example, if you search for nanorobotics you get an article with sixty-two sources and various essays within essays, but if you search for In the Heart of the Heart of the Country you get a did-you-mean list of options headed by a Paul and Linda McCartney effort and the 1992 worldwide smash Achy Breaky Heart.

Incidentally, Achy Breaky Heart was the first song to ever go triple platinum in Australia. Wow, Australia, what were you thinking? One in every eighty Australians bought a copy of Achy Breaky Heart. May the world remind you of that fact the next time you are trying to claim cultural superiority over New Zealand. One in eighty, dudes. One in eighty.

Anyway, Impossible Object. It’s rather good actually. What at first appears to be a series of short stories starts to weld (do I mean weld?) into a larger, stranger whole. (Do I mean meld?) (Is meld a word?) (Is weld a word?) (Is word a word?) (Shall I start again?) (OK)

Impossible Object appears, at first, to be a short story collection, and in one sense, it is. At least some of the sections are stories written by characters in other sections of the novel. Or about themselves at different parts of the book. Some of the writers use ridiculously over-the-top similes. Others don’t. For example, toward the end of the book we find out that the first chapter is a short story written by one of the characters of the last chapter in which he exagerated the seriousness of an incident that happened during his previous marriage. That sounds more confusing than it is. The stories slowly start to carry echoes and whispers of each other until they become a larger whole. Ultimately though, these interlocking stories don’t quite fit together. In Impossible Object, Mosley created an Escher drawing in text; an impossible object. It is a bloody good trick.

It makes you wonder what all that death-of-the-novel nonsense was in the Seventies (and in every decade since, obviously). This novel is vital, in both senses of the word. It is experimental, but experimental for a reason: Mosley was attempting to capture the essence of what it means to write about love.

Parts of Impossible Object do appear slightly dated (today’s novelists tend to hide their university educations behind a wall of dirt or irony) but is actually all the better for this. The novel is a much more noble project than the showy pyrotechnics of, say, David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. Here the narrative is pulled apart and twisted to imitate the workings of the heart, not to disguise the fact it hasn’t got one. I guess the word noble is dated. I guess I’m dated. I’ll shut up now.

This is definitely one for your to-read piles.

Out of print: Widely available second-hand.

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