Chloe Aridjis - Asunder

Asunder - Chloe Aridjis

There is a brilliant review of this book on amazon. It says:

 

“There are silly mistakes when talking about the gallery :
There is no gallery 88
There is no gallery 67
Human Resources haven’t been based in the Gallery building for the last 10 years.
Human Resources have nothing to do with picture movements and informing staff”

 

Other than that, the reviewer deems the book ‘enjoyable’.  The reason this review is brilliant is that it is almost metaliterary – it feels like it’s a review written by one of the characters stepping out of the pages of Asunder to voice their complaints. It could’ve even been Marie - Asunder’s narrator who is a guard at the National Gallery in London or one of the other characters who populate this seemingly quiet and introspective novel.

 

But don’t be fooled, because there is suppressed violence almost on every page, just underneath the surface. In fact, the characters just like the prose itself threaten to explode and rip the book apart, and yet the novel manages to restrain itself. There is also this unacknowledged sexuality in it that creeps around the edges and also poses a danger to the delicate balance.

 

Everything in ‘Asunder’ seems fragile – from the peace in the galleries, to Marie’s little art project (creating crumbling sculpture landscapes with moths) and even Marie’s friendship with Daniel needs to stay within clearly defined boundaries so as not collapse.

 

The patron saint of the novel is Mary Richardson – a frail looking, petite woman, who nonetheless was a militant suffragette and one day she walked into the National Gallery and slashed Rokeby Venus  with a chopper before anyone could stop her (and one who should’ve stopped her was Marie’s great grandfather who was a guard in that room at that time). This event serves as a leitmotif for the book as much as such a book can have a leitmotif, because as a reviewer in Publishers Weekly rightly pointed out 'Asunder' can’t be reduced to a single theme.

 

 

What I love about Aridjis and her books is how hypnotic her prose is, how lyrical and how interested in all those sensations no other writers concern themselves with. Chloe Aridjis matches my literary DNA – for each of her guanine there is my cytosine, for her adenine there is my thymine.

 

 Read this book if you want to know all my secrets. And here is one to get you started:

 

“At night I prefer to take the bus home though it often means transferring. To descend into the brightness of the Tube cancels out the day’s end too brusquely, while buses do the opposite by carrying you through the pensive streets.”