I Think I’m Going to Read J. M. Ledgard Now . . .

If you’re like me, you’ve been hearing a lot about J. M. Ledgard lately, particularly his novel Submergence. This is the essay that made me finally think I need to put him on my must-read list.

The greater surprise, rather, is in these two books’ composition. In attempting to tell a story, many novelists simply follow a single character, or an interconnected group of characters, chronologically through a specific time and place. Giraffe, however, splits its narrative of bringing a herd of giraffes from eastern Africa to landlocked Czechoslovakia—and their eventual, stomach-churning massacre—among six narrators across a three-and-a-half–year span, with a seventh narrator providing an epilogue twenty-eight years after the novel’s beginning. Submergence eschews even this idea of chronology, adopting a chiasmic structure by tracking the perpendicular lives of a male British spy captured by jihadists and a female marine biologist both before and after the short time of their meeting one Christmas on France’s Atlantic coast.

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Me too! Took a drive down to B&N on my lunch break. First time I’ve stepped inside a B&N in months. Of course they didn’t have a copy of Submergence in the store.

So I ordered it on Amazon.

Very interested to see what you make of Submergence. I thought that it was smart, with some rich ideas and a few lyrical passages, but that his editor let him down a lot. Also, thanks for this site and for your work elsewhere!

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3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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