The Adjacent

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“The Adjacent” by Christopher Priest is a strange book. It’s not an easy read. There’s no classical beginning, middle and end and also there is nothing like a classical climax.

The book tells several different stories. They are separate, but also somehow connected. Those stories are told in shorter and longer parts. So you get part of one story, then another and then again return to the earlier one. Then you also realize that one story told somewhat later in the book is a prequel to an earlier story. Sounds pretty chaotic, doesn’t it? So you probably won’t be amazed to learn that I was frequently asking myself “What the fuck is going on here?”

The stories aren’t very special when looked at separately. They are strange, but there’s nothing to make you feel attached to any of the protagonists. Most stories are about photographers who are so much into photography that they literally make photographs of anything. And they also seem to have quite a lot of sex with women they don’t really know, but those scenes aren’t described overly vividly. So don’t have any hopes for porn literature here. Those photography guys have all very similar names. Other names from different stories also have peculiar similarities.

Give special attention to the names. Even if it sometimes look like some typo, you can be quite sure that it’s not and the change is intentional.

There is no grand final. There is no chapter that sums it all up and tells you what the heck is going on here. It’s up to you to guess it. Later chapters give more and more clues, but you’ll never get a clear answer to the enduring “What the … ?” question.

The book is like a puzzle. The individual pieces don’t look spectacular, but once you put them together, it’s quite a different thing. So the old “The whole is more than the sum of its parts” also applies here.

The mood of the book is dark, even dystopian at times. There’s always some war going on. It’s always a different war, but it’s always said to be “the war that will end all wars”.

Only if you make it to the end, you can fully appreciate it, because only then you realize that it’s all about …