Good writing, but I got tired of the main character's attitudes and felt like telling him to get over himself already!
If you are among the leading edge of Baby Boomers, this is a very thought provoking book which nicely shows why you cannot relive the past nor should you.
This novel takes a main character from a previous book and has him narrate his own life. Revisiting significant places from his past, he reminisces about the events that made those places special to him. He talks about his family, showing us the relationship with his parents and older brother. He talks about his school friends and the escapades they were involved in. He talks about his first love and how that relationship ended. We see his subsequent relationships, including his marriages and how he continued relationships with both his ex-wives. He talks about his children and the special moments he remembers with them. He is a man obsessed with both Tolstoy and the Beatles, and hooked on the illusion of fame.
His is not an extraordinary life, and he looks back at events both happy and sad. It reads like a real memoir, and because the character is a writer, it keeps feeling like Gilmour is pulling experiences from his own life.
"The Perfect Order of Things" has both a self-mocking and self-absorbed premise: the narrator, a composite version of all voices from Gilmour's previous books, decides to return to places where he has suffered in life "with [his] eyes open." He hopes to settle old scores, explore the roots of recurrent miseries and relearn early lessons. The ten chapters read like pilgrimages and, together, produce the fictional autobiography of a writer revisiting affairs, obsessions, triumphs, griefs and disappointments.
This courageous novel shows the extent to which an author yearns for recognition while believing himself an imposter. Its narrator confesses to jealousy, insecurity and egotism yet somehow comes across as endearing, even lovable, allowing the book to transcend self-absorption. Gilmour writes with finesse, irony and creative playfulness as he makes himself vulnerable by appraising his past work. And, though this book stands on its own, it invites rereadings of Gilmour's earlier novels (Lost Between Houses, Sparrow Nights, A Perfect Night to Go to China).
Despite its potential to turn into a narcissistic disaster at any page, "The Perfect Order of Things" remains intelligent, humourous and precisely observant throughout.
"We don’t have many of these post-modern fractured narratives in Canada: Leonard Cohen’s novels of course, Gordon Shepherd’s monumental HA!, and recently, Yann Martel’s Beatrice and Virgil. But The Perfect Order of Things is so easily read, it adds a level of accessibility to the genre the others can’t match."
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