Thursday, Jul. 02, 2009

Geoff Dyer

Geoff Dyer picks Sum by David Eagleman

Big books don't have to be big! I mean, books addressing huge topics don't have to be long. Clocking in at just over 100 pages, David Eagleman's mind-blowing Sum consists of 40 dazzlingly brief visions of what might happen when you shuffle off this mortal coil. In one imagined version of the afterlife, you are confronted by all your potential selves — the versions of yourself that you could have become if you'd worked a little harder. That attractive proposition turns out to be tormenting, for "the more you fall short of your potential, the more of these annoying selves you are forced to deal with." Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities provides a precedent of sorts, both for the way in which the impossible is made palpable and for the skill with which inventory turns to ingenious fable, but Eagleman is a true original. Read Sum and be amazed. Reread it and be reamazed all over again.

Dyer's latest novel is Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi