Elkin Elsewhere

Don't miss frequent Quarterly Conversation contributor Lauren Elkin's review of Rose Alley by Jeremy Davies up at The Second Pass.

The novel is structured as a trip into the archives of the film, decades later, compiled and catalogued by an unidentified narrator. You read it as if you’ve found a scrapbook of people you don’t know. (This involves a lot of rereading and cross-checking to make sure you’ve got everyone straight in your head; Davies has anticipated this, and has helpfully provided an index.) One by one, Davies trains his lens on the producer, director, leading lady, screenwriter, and assorted members of the cast and crew, zooming in tightly to look for the wrinkles and pockmarks, and just as the frame clicks into focus — just as we think we have a handle on this terribly strange and specific character — we cut to someone else. . . .

Film is, to Davies, what the Library of Babel was to Borges: a container for infinity. But with the potential to capture everything comes problems. How do you create a world? Or how do you conjure up another world that is not immediately visible, either because it has been erased by time, or because it never existed?



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