Wednesday, 1 August 2001

John G. Carpenter: Kingdom Wink (2001)

Edition: Xlibris, 2001
Review number: 889

At the beginning of this novel, its subject appears to be a literal dropout. The narrator, has become homeless and given up a dull filing job, she says, to devote time to observing the world around her. She does this in a generally misanthropic way, noticing particularly how much of most people's time is wasted as they pass her with their everyday preoccupations.

However, she is not as detached an observer as her narration would have the reader believe. Her relationship with her parents, her despised alcoholic mother and the dead violent father who had wanted her to be a boy, is the centre of her life. Even though she is not living in her mother's flat, she remains in the area and depends on being able to return there at intervals.

As the novel unfolds, the complexity of the narrator's internal life becomes as apparent as the fact that there is much that is not being said, not least the precise nature of the "Opportunity" that she is looking for while observing passing humanity. Part of the complexity is due to the irony that, rejecting the pointless lives most people in her opinion have, the narrator is reduced to the even more passive role of a waiting observer.

Kingdom Wink is an enigmatic and well written novel, which involves the reader so much that in the end its openendedness produces a feeling of frustration.

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