Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Formaldehyde by Jane Rawson

Formaldehyde by Jane Rawson is a weird book. I picked it up at Continuum because I've heard lots of good things about the author and because I was unlikely to see it in paperback form again any time soon. I have A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists in my TBR but haven't gotten around to it, so this was my first experience of Rawson's work.

Lives are turned upside down by a bureaucratic error in this Kafkaesque work of neo-absurdism.

This was, as I have already said, a weird book. I have to admit, I was expecting more speculative fiction than I got, but there wasn't zero. The story follows four people, two each twenty-two years apart, and some of the ways in which their lives intersect. There's Paul, whom one could call the main character, although the story doesn't really revolve around him. Paul's story starts when he finds himself declared dead although he clearly isn't (actually, this confused me for a little and had me thinking he might be a ghost or something), and leads him to embark upon trying to get the paperwork fixed so that he can exist again.

Along the way, he meets a girl called Benjamin and has a brief fling with her. The other two characters, whose stories are mostly told twenty-two years earlier, are Paul's parents, Derek and Amy. The two women have the most speculative elements in their stories, surrounding Amy's pregnancy and Benjamin's age, but I probably shouldn't say more than that. The book masterfully ties the lives of four people together in unexpected ways.

Although this is not quite the kind of book I would normally read, I enjoyed it. I am definitely interested in reading more of the author's work, although I imagine I will lean more towards more speculative stories than this one. Meanwhile, I recommend Formaldehyde to fans of absurdist or Kafkaesque stories.

4 / 5 stars

First published: 2015, Seizure
Series: No.
Format read: Paperback!
Source: Purchased at Continuum from Slow Glass Books

Challenges: Australian Women Writers Challenge

1 comment:

  1. Yay! I am so glad you liked it! It was a fun book to work on. :)