MJ Nicholls's Reviews > Things in the Night

Things in the Night by Mati Unt
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Aug 26, 14

bookshelves: novels, dalkey-archive, eastern-europe
Read from December 10 to 19, 2010

This novel let me down. It began with a whoosh of interest—a postmodern cocktail of writing angst, electricity and Estonian political schism. Then, somewhere around p150, reading another rambling monologue in the one voice Unt can write, I began to itch my bum. Think about my bills. Want a drink. Go for a walk. Picture Lisa Marr in her bikini.

This novel IS great. What it needs is someone to kill the last one hundred pages. So if we imagine those pages don’t exist, this is a poetic, melancholy and affecting little book, rich in beautiful descriptions of Estonian nature, mini-tales of Soviet oppression and amusing poetic interludes. It has a bouncy and free structure. It’s playful. I love these things. The design is beautiful.

But then. Those extra one hundred pages. More rambling first-person speeches. No real sense of what is going on. An anti-structure. The narrator addressing us as an absent second-person wife, who never turns up. Irritating use of exclamation marks. More Latin phrases for cacti. Oh God! Is that the time? I’m afraid I have some business to attend to, Mr. Unt. Goodbye.
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Reading Progress

12/15/2010 page 202

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