Nate D's Reviews > A Plan for Escape

A Plan for Escape by Adolfo Bioy Casares
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's review
Apr 05, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: argentina, read-in-2012, 40s-after-war
Recommended to Nate D by: appointment to remote prison-island
Recommended for: synaesthetes
Read from April 03 to 05, 2012

As in his debut novel The Invention of Morel, Bioy-Casare's second involves an investigation of the strange organizing principles of a mysterious island. As with the prior book, the intrigued protagonist (here, appointed to a post at a prison island whose governor is engaged in some variety of scientific exploration and/or madness (echoes of Moreau)) gradually gets drawn into something well over his head. It's all suitably mysterious, and the eventual explanation suitably crazy and interesting, but a couple points hold it back a bit:

-the explanation is mostly just delivered all at once at the end to recast the rest of the story -- without this straight explanation what came before would be unintelligable. There's no "figuring it out" here, for the reader.
-as with Morel, there seems to be a lot of unneccessary narrative distance introduced by the diary/epistolary format, so things never really seem so immediate or urgent.

On the other hand:

-Despite the rather post-hoc explanation, there is a much thematic groundwork laid down (discussion of symbols, especially) which makes the whole thing a rather more interesting whole.
-The epistolary format adds a couple further narrative layers and intrigues. I'm not convinced they're necessary to the core plotline, but they are intriguing. And could there be some larger plot organization I'm missing? Quite possibly. It seems like it could be that kind of book.

And so: quick, entertaining, stimulating.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy I had the same problem with Morel too... the whole explaining everything at the end bit. But with Morel, there's the added annoying fact that the protagonist just wasn't understanding what was happening for 80% of the book, despite it being very obvious by about half way in. It was unbelievable how slow on the uptake he was in that book.

Nate D Yeah, totally agreed. My other distancing issue with Casares is that his protagonists just really aren't too on the ball a lot of the time. I always want to see where Casares is going, but the narrators seem to actively get in the way.

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