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The Microcosm

3.40  ·  Rating details ·  20 ratings  ·  4 reviews
At the House of Shades, Matt, a bar-room philosopher, tries to make sense of the disparate lives which cross here -- of Judy who saves herself and her finery for a Saturday night lover, of Steve the gym teacher who dreads a chance encounter with a pupil in this twilight environment, and of Matt herself, who needs these vicarious exchanges despite the security of her relati ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 28th 1989 by Virago Press (first published 1966)
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3.40  · 
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 ·  20 ratings  ·  4 reviews


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Candy Wood
If I had read The Microcosm when it was first published, in 1966, I would probably have been put off by the difficulties of the narrative technique. Duffy presents the lives of many women through stream of consciousness and dialogue, shifting registers with class and time period. Even the central device of the House of Shades nightclub doesn't connect all the characters. The influence of James Joyce is most evident in the lowercase thoughts of Marie, struggling to find her own identity in a love ...more
Mel
Jul 08, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm giving up on this one for awhile. The style was just too literary. Sometimes a book has a really great style that throws you further into the world of the characters (Reynolds, Gaskell, Kerouac) and sometimes it just seems to put you at a distance from what's happening. That seemed to be the case here. I thought it sounded fascinating but I just ended up not being interested in any of the characters, except the first bartender. May try it again at some point or something else by her. But qui ...more
Jonathan Norton
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
The lives of characters around the lesbian club House Of Shades (based on the actual Gateways Club in Chelsea). In an Afterword Duffy explains it evolved from interviews she did for a possible non-fiction book, which no publisher would take at the time. That origin is reflected in the extensive stream-of-consciousness and introspection about background and social relations. There is lots of anxiety here, around class and race as well as gender, a yearning for a freer world and a sense that one i ...more
Emma
Dec 21, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
couldnt get past the first sentence...
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Maureen Patricia Duffy (born 21 October 1933) is a contemporary British novelist, poet, playwright, nonfiction author and activist.

Duffy's work often uses Freudian ideas and Greek mythology as frameworks.[1] Her writing is distinctive for its use of contrasting voices, or streams of consciousness, often including the perspectives of outsiders. Her novels have been linked to a European tradition of
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