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Betrayals - Charles Palliser

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Title
Betrayals - A Novel
Author
Charles Palliser
format
Paperback / softback
Publisher
Ballantine
Language
English
UK Publication Date
19960625

At once a hypnotic murder mystery, scathing literary parody, soap opera, and brilliant pastiche, Betrayals is an astonishing virtuouso performance by a modern master of literary gamesmanship in the tradition of Vladimir Nabokov and John Barth.
The novel unforlds in a series of seemingly unrelated narratives, each written in a different style -- indeed, in a different genre. There is an obituary for a Scottish scientist and Nobel Prize winner, written by a colleague who clearly relishes his death. Early in the century, a train in the Scottish Highlands heads down the wrong track during a winter snowstorm, and the passengers are forced to abandon the train, resulting in the death -- or is it murder? -- of one of them. An inane publisher's reader summarizes the plot of a tacky hospital romance novel, which ends in a gory murder all too reminiscent of Jack the Ripper. Even a report on a contemporary academic controversy explodes into a scandal of plagiarism, shattered reputations, paranoia, and suicide -- or is it murder made to look as such?
As Palliser deftly teases out each new situation, it becomes clear that they are all variations on a single outrageous theme: a distinguished figure in some intellectual pursuit -- science, literature, academia -- becomes obsessed with the success of a rival and schemes his demise, only to botch the job out of sheer monomania. Like the scorpion that stings itself to death, each plotter becomes a victim of his own plot; each betrayer changes places with the betrayed in an intricate dance of deception, revenge, and revelation.
A challenging, engrossing, utterly original work of art, Betrayals is also pure joy to read -- a book that will make you laugh out loud, turn pages madly in pursuit of the next plot twist, and above all, marvel at the supreme ingenuity of a fictional puzzle in which the unlikeliest pieces fit together perfectly.

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Charles Palliser'shistorical novels include The Quincunx, The Unburied, and Rustication. His fiction has been translated into a dozen languages. Palliser'sThe Quincunx was awarded the Sue Kaufman Prize by the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.He has written plays for BBC Radio and the stage. Prior to becoming a full-time writer in 1990, he taught literature and creative writingat universities in the UK and the USA. A graduate of Oxford University, Palliser lives in London.

"An obituary tells of a Scottish scientist dying; travelers tell tales to while away the time, then one dies mysteriously; a publisher's reader reports on a trashy story; an academic scandal is hashed over; an avid television watcher offers up his diary. Then names start recurring, similar situations are alluded to. Thus does the author of The Quincunx build up this story of betrayals....Palliser uses stories within stories, black humor, and parody to make it all work."

-- Dallas Morning News

"Richly Hilarious...

These seemingly diverse narratives -- at first glance, about completely unrelated subjects -- are filled with hidden connections."

-- Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Ingenious in the highest degree...Some of the book will make the reader laugh out loud; some will make him shudder. Palliser has a wicked eye, an ear that misses nothing, and a virtuoso dirty mind....In each story someone becomes obsessed with a rival and plots his destruction only to become caught in a trap of his own devising; the scorpion perishes from his own sting."

-- The Boston Globe

"A Thought-Provoking and Wonderful Novel...

Let us hope that Charles Palliser carries on his idiosyncratic career by defying all expectations save one -- that he continue to produce novels reflecting his exceptional knowledge and creativity."

-- The Washington Post Book World

"Fiendishly Clever."

-- San Francisco Chronicle

Type
BOOK
Country of Publication
New York (State)
Number of Pages
368

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