Absences

Having said I would explain the absence of a review for Henri Ossan-Ossaf’s In Case amongst my Greatest European Novels List, I’m not sure I can. I started commissioning reviews for this list almost six years ago, asking no more than a few thousand words for each novel. You’d have thought someone could have come up with something by now, wouldn’t you?

Ah, but you underestimate the peculiar humour of this world of ours. Strange forces, fuelled by hidden realities, with the close support of metaphysical powers lying behind the mysterious veil of the unknown, have clearly decided that no one should write a review of Ossan-Ossaf’s book. Why I do not know. Suffice it to say that they have made their point clear on more than one occasion.

One could get too hysterical about this whole matter. One could even write a novel about the attempt to write a review of this novel; a novel that would quite possibly be better than the original novel. Yes: one could definitely make more of this if one wanted to.

As editors go, however, I seek an element of reserve. Where others go over the top, I merely peek my head above the parapet for a moment or so. Ultimately, I have better things to do than submit to hysteria.

On which basis, let me keep this explanation brief. The facts are as follows: several writers have agreed to write this review over the last six years. All of them have failed to finish. At first these failures felt like a spooky coincedence. They have since begun to seem like something rather more frightening. I exaggerate, perhaps, but the death of so many critics working on the same project in such a short space of time does strike me as just a little odd. Some of them were quite old, admittedly, but the demise of the others certainly came as something of a shock. Nobody, not even his anxious mother, expected Per Hansen to choke on that satsuma.

The greatest sadness of all, of course, lies in the fact that, amidst all this chaos, the review remains unwritten. God knows that we’ve tried to remedy this, but God clearly has other ideas. What they are exactly is beyond even my critical powers. I guess we’ll have to wait for him/her to write a novel.

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