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Walter Abish: Eclipse Fever

Abish’s first novel for thirteen years can be read simply as an international sex and drugs thriller. Alejandro is a Mexican literary critic. His estranged wife, Mercedes, is translating the latest book by Jurud, a Jewish-American writer. Alejandro believes she is also having an affair with Jurud. Jurud has a daughter called Bonny who gives a clue to another aspect of the novel when she says My father maintains that history and fiction are interchangeable. Bonny has found that from her own experience, as she realises that she is the subject of many of Jurud’s novels. Together with the story of these four is the story of a rich American industrialist, smuggled archeological artefacts and murder. Bonny is also involved in this story line. As in his previous work, Abish jump cuts from scene to scene. Unlike his other works, there is no real central character. While we tend to see much of the action from Alejandro’s perspective, there is a lot going on outside his frame of reference. Of course, this enables Abish to use the filmic jump cut approach. It also enables him to mix history and fiction as though they are interchangeable and to maintain his post-modernist credentials. It didn’t always work for me but it is still an interesting attempt.

Publishing history

First published 1993 by Knopf