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A Million Windows represent itself as fiction. It is hardly that by any definition of the word. It is more an opportunity to engage Mr. Murnane at a deep level regarding what he enjoys exploring and that's language and how it is used and what it means. It is also a chance for him to reflect on place, so very important to him, and memory and what it represents, how false it can be, and to share his thoughts about literature and other writers who he purports not to read. This is a book you will enjoy if you like Mr. Murnane's eccentric mind and following his twisted thought process which often doubles back on itself. My guess would be that most readers will say this is not fiction and I'm going to throw the book against the wall or use it for kindling.
Admittedly, I'm only halfway through it, but it is such an odd book and one I am enjoying so much, that I thought he must have written it just for me. So I decided to look on Amazon to see if it was popular and if anybody else liked it. And guess what? Maybe it was written just for me, though I'm quite positive I'm one of the undiscerning readers he writes of, otherwise I wouldn't have looked up Louise Davenport to see if she exists or not. (She does.) It did take a while for me to get involved in the story(?), but from around page 50 on, he had me. Up to that point, I thought it might not even be fiction.
I'll update this when I finish. Not sure I will want to try to describe it. Sorry if this review isn't helpful.
UPDATE: Finished the same day. Wildly strange with much merit. I suspect I'll read it again, which I almost never do with books. But this one is very dense and you can't possibly get it all on the first reading. (If you want a story, this isn't going to please you.)
"How is the story narrated?" is one of Amazon't stock questions here. Well, that's the question the book is really about. "Really." "About." I could try to imitate it by saying that in this sentence I am imitating it. But that would be to fail badly, since the book is so amazing. The quick version is that it's an intensely self-reflective account of its own writing. But what matters is not what might sound like a metafictional game -- you may think you've been there and done that -- but the intensity, emotional, psychological, human. It's like a distillation of one aspect of Proust, the aspect where the narrator thinks of his hero thinking of writing. And while nothing sustains comparison with Proust, it's the strongest tribute I can offer to A Million Windows to say that the comparison is a genuine and legitimate one. Maybe the most moving book I read in 2016.
"Since it's largely unintelligible, it must be great!"
I read a review of his stuff on the NYT and bought three of his books for no other reason than the article suggested that he might be a Nobel lit nominee. For those unfamiliar with his writing, I encourage you to read a page or three before buying.
Here's an excerpt taken from p. 6: "I would expect, however, that any such reader, after a little reflection, would agree that what he or she wanted from me was that I should report not the appearance of a particular house but the detail that first alerted me to the existence of the house in what I call the invisible world, which detail would surely have seemed likely to fufill [SIC] some or another long-held hope or expectation of mine."
If you enjoy page after page of mental diarrhea, by all means buy a copy and enjoy yourself!
In the NYT article, it gives the name of the bar where a sometimes works. I'm not going to spend postage to mail him all three of the books, but I am mailing my copy of "A Million Windows" back to him in care of the bar. He can do with it whatever he wants. The other two books of his that I purchased in the same order are going straight into the trash without having ever been opened.