I appreciate Liz’s question about whether/how The Man Who Walked Away fits into the form of novel. Casey’s use of fragmentation and repetition is very effective. She conveys Albert’s sense of mystery and wonder and limited well of information by repeating images or sensations or stories throughout the narrative (the bells, the swan brothers story, listing city names). Continually referring to the Doctor, the Director and the great doctor by titles also mirrors Albert’s confused state and diminished capacity. My problem with this though is the similarity in voice when writing from Albert’s point of view and the Doctor’s. It winds up conflating their identities for the reader — identities that are actually very different. The fragmentary way Casey writes, using repetition and floral descriptions of settings, is certainly not clinical. But it is also not strictly literary. I wonder if I would have a problem identifying the book as a novel if it weren’t based in reality.
This returns me to what I keep focusing on throughout the semester and our readings: truth, time, subjectivity. I am fascinated with how individuals can be multiple selves throughout time and how two people can have conflicting realities — that subjectivity allows one situation to take place with two opposing results or truths. We see this all the time in politics or religion or the Oscars or even an argument between friends. Any past creation or remnant (like a tweet!) is a hologram of who I am. If I change, am I no longer that person even if it exists on record somewhere? What about a visual representation, or a video? I am interested in the tension in present, past and future selves.