Sunday, June 20

Top 10 novels told in a single day | Books


RI was recently fortunate enough to publish a novel based, in part, on the years I spent working as a plumber. After reading it, some of my new literary friends commented, “Oh, so you’re writing in the circadian tradition?” I nodded and searched a dictionary to discover the meaning of “circadian.” It turns out that the word describes the process of going around, of going back. Books set within 24-hour limits. One day in the Life.

I cannot affirm that my intention would have been to write such a work. In trying to bring the world of manual labor to life, a world not overrepresented in modern fiction, I found it necessary to focus on the minute and the granular. If we can have police procedures, why can’t we also have plumbing procedures? And very quickly this technique of strict focus, the super close-up, was reflected in the characters themselves and in their stories. After all, there is freedom to work within limits, and perhaps the most important limit is time itself. New compression possibilities open up; opportunities for strange extensions. Behold, and without realizing it at all, He had created a circadian work of fiction.

Why don’t more writers do it? It sounds common but, in fact, it is not. Here I have put together 10 examples that deserve to be measured with the best atomic clock.

1. Ulysses by James Joyce
You can play Cluedo with Ulysses. If it’s 11 o’clock in the morning we should be in the thread with Stephen Dedalus, the color is green and the technique is a monologue. If it is 10 o’clock at night, we must be in the hospital with Leopold Bloom, the color is white and the “embryonic development” technique. And so. Joyce himself said: “I may have systematized Ulysses too much.” But it is worth remembering that this book, number one of the circadian novels, possibly of all novels, also contains some of the most beautiful descriptive passages written in the English language.

two. The Nicholson Baker Mezzanine
Adjusting the circadian focus even further, this story is packed, crowded, and shuffled into a single lunch break. Here, the ingenious device of the enlarged footnote animates the inner life of the young office worker Howie. Between episodes of “escalator bliss” ascending to his workplace, he ruminates on frayed laces, the wonders of perforated paper, ice cubes, Marcus Aurelius and many other micro-affairs. A treasure chest of the everyday.

3. Seize the Day by Saul Bellow
Tommy Wilhelm, a failed actor with a wife and children to support, has decided to invest his last $ 700 in butter. Your commodities broker is a shadowy psychiatrist and speculator, Dr. Tamkin, who wastes no time undermining Tommy with his own kind of wild psychoanalytic theory. It’s one more mistake in a long line for Tommy, but like Sisyphus, he’s cursed to repeat his mistakes over and over again.

Four. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Mrs. Dalloway is throwing a party; it is finished and done for one day and one night in June. Here is an effortless flow between past, present and future, sharp clarity, even the occasional moment of joy, which is rare in Woolf’s work. Bird’s-eye views of London turn into intimate sights. Eavesdropping abounds, not a rarity. Ms. Dalloway is the brainchild of a prose teacher in full swing; it is a privilege to be caught in its wake.

Albert Finney as Geoffrey Firmin in the 1984 film Under the Volcano.
Day of the Dead… Albert Finney as Geoffrey Firmin in John Huston’s 1984 film Under the Volcano. Photograph: Allstar / Universal Pictures

5. Under the Malcolm Lowry Volcano
An active volcano looms over a landscape saturated with poverty and sunlight, and Geoffrey Firmin, a missing consul in Mexico, is dying of alcoholism. We know from the out-of-sequence first chapter that this is not going to end well. Hour by hour carefully choreographed we follow him on his last and terrible journey towards the violent act that will end his life. Not by chance, Lowry chose to place this modernist masterpiece on the Day of the Dead.

6. A single man by Christopher Isherwood
If Geoffrey Firmin has left his body, George, Christopher Isherwood’s stand-in in this 1964 story about an elderly professor who teaches literature in California, takes active steps to stop his own physical decline. He works out in the gym, matching the efforts of the young men next to him. He is a cocky old George, who is mourning the death of his lover, but is convinced that he is still capable of working his magic on almost everyone he meets during the course of his only day. The deception in George’s heart is not, perhaps, completely followed by Isherwood, but let’s not underestimate his achievement. The frank descriptions of homosexual desire made this a revolutionary work for gay liberation.

7. Charles Dickens Christmas Carol
Written in 1843 and still in force. It’s no wonder when you look back at the quality of the sentences and the simplicity of the storytelling. Alive, exuberant, terrifying in places, this is the quintessential modern morality tale. “It should not be mentioned or written according to the ordinary rules,” declared a contributor to Blackwood magazine in 1844. If only Charles Dickens were present today to create an equally powerful and popular indictment of the exploding need for banks food .

8. Androids dream of electric sheep? by Philip K Dick
From ghosts to androids. “In a sense, I’m now the greatest bounty hunter who ever lived,” reflects Rick Deckard toward the end of this sci-fi classic. “No one removed six guys from Nexus-6s in a span of twenty-four hours and probably no one will ever do it again.” Your reward, at the end of an almost impossibly long day? A toad This is a future Earth where real animals are status symbols. Unfortunately, the toad itself turns out to be a robot. Not that Deckard cares, by then he just wants to sleep. Well, you see your point. Imagine six Zoom meetings in a row, and at the end of each one you must cancel a participant. Don’t you feel like getting some sleep?

9. A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
The prose is as sparse as the food in this everyday novel, which shocked Soviet Russia when it was first published in 1962. From the moment of awakening to those wonderful minutes preceding sleep, we follow Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, S 854 , while dealing with the arduous task of survival in the Stalinist gulag. Clever, resourceful, even with a kind of hope, Shukhov maneuvers to get the slightest advantage without stooping to fool anyone. He has somehow retained a certain integrity and is an absolutely compelling figure.

10. Pincher Martin by William Golding
A drowning sailor is washed away by a rock in the Atlantic. He clings to life, hungry, dehydrated, believing that his hands are giant crab claws. Inclusion in the circadian canon is not straightforward and the rating depends on a puzzle. What exactly happens when “Pincher” Martin takes off his wellies? The final twist stumped critics at the time and is not easy to understand even now. Essentially, Golding’s argument seems to be that his protagonist dies in the opening pages, and the rest of the book is an afterlife, conjured by an ego facing its last desperate hours on Earth that very first day. . Welcome to canon, Pincher Martin?


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