Slipping Into the Light

Let me tell you about ..." So begin the e-mail missives of Hiroshi Sakamoto, the septuagenarian survivor of the atomic bomb in Nagasaki, whose love of haiku poetry is later parlayed into an appreciation of all things modern. In Gail Jones' seductive new novel, his captive audience is young Australian Alice Black, who is researching her book, The Poetics of Modernity. And over the course of Dreams of Speaking (Vintage; 214 pages), a succession of machines are summoned, from the Xerox copier to the neon tube, to glow in the novel's velvety darkness. Here the things which bring people together also...

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