The reviews for Seven Lies are notably short. However what they let on, that of Seven Lies being a political thriller with an unreliable narrator, really piques my curiosity.
According to the Guardian, which slots Seven Lies under Crime and offers such a short review that I finished reading it as soon as I started it,
Lasdun's second novel has much of the thriller about it. (cannot quote more. I'd have the entire review here then)The Man Booker forums have a review and a plot synopsis up for Seven Lies.
What really interested me in all the James Lasdun related reading that I did, is this interview with Robert Birnbaum for Identity Theory.
Seven Lies is a hybrid narrative of a thriller and a middle-European, early-20th-century meditation on desire and the darkness that may hide in each of us. A young East German, Stefan Vogel, grows up fantasizing a life in America, the golden land of his dreams. He makes it to New York, marries the girl of those dreams, seemingly having achieved his goals when, as is inevitable, things fall apart.
RB: On one level, it seems to be more difficult—or claimed to be more difficult—to write a novel, but on the other hand it seems to be harder to write a really good short story or really excellent poem.
JL: I think it is. I also think more people have a novel in them—a novel or two, than have a poem or a short story. Short stories are phenomenally hard to do—
RB: Novels are more forgiving?
JL: Yeah, they are. That’s exactly the word. You can go off on digressions—it doesn’t have to be perfect, in a way. A really good short story doesn’t have much tolerance for imperfection. And a really good poem has none.
RB: When you mention the things you like to read, what would those be?
JL: I like all kinds of things. I do like Kafka and I have alluded to Kafka in The Horned Man. And he is certainly writing about people who are estranged from their own society and who see themselves in relations, not being one of a simple continuum. They are not usually representative types of a social world. They are usually at odds with the particular worlds to the extent there is even a social world in the first place. Kafka is so metaphysical and metaphorical. I also love Tolstoy and the great realists. I am very drawn to Russian fiction. I’m not exactly sure why. But everyone in it from the most naturalistic writers like Chekov to Gogol, I feel an affinity with their sensibility.
RB: What about American writers?
JL: Many Americans, yeah. I love Saul Bellow. And I like him as a stylist, principally.
RB: In the two novels the people—it’s hard to call them heroes, the protagonists—do you like them? Stefan Vogel [protagonist of Seven Lies] and Lawrence Miller.
JL: Liking or not liking has never been an issue for me as a reader. Or as a writer. For me it's sympathy, or are you engaged? Is this a narrative journey that you are interested in taking? And yeah, I am well aware they are not the most obviously likeable people.
Listen to the author reading his story Snow (not free)
More Seven Lies links.