Totes Meer

Dai Vaughan
Publication Date: 
Friday, October 24, 2003
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Totes Meer is an eloquent and lapidary meditation on control, rebellion and creativity. In four sections - ’A Rabbit’, ’Letter to a Dog’, ’In Chrysalis’, ’Slug Heaven’ - Dai Vaughan contrasts life viewed in anticipation with life viewed in retrospect.

In a narrative which encompasses neolithic technology and the Suez crisis, terrorism and the French Revolution, he confronts the political and personal forces that govern us, and asks how we might counter them. Vaughan’s is a seasoned yet playful voice underpinned by a deep concern for the uses and abuses of power.

"Dai Vaughan, one of the most imperiously intelligent fiction-writers alive, has constructed a novel of complete originality. It is a pattern of voices debating their lives and their worlds, sometimes in lonely soliloquy and sometimes in dialogue with others. The voices of a man facing death, of a Palaeolithic humanoid reflecting on hunting, power and the origins of music, of an ageing artist returning to solitude and her own memories of creation and grief, of a boy wide-eyed in a new place... among others. The voices at first seem unconnected. But the reader soons grows aware of the subtle skill which gathers them all into elements of a single composition. And this is also a polemic book. It is a novel of many ideas: about memory, about politics (above all, Vaughan’s recurrent theme of the impunity of the powerful, never reached by the vengeance of their victims), about art, prehistory and classical myth. But its underlying strength is the sheer quality of Vaughan’s writing, "poetic" in its fastidious freshness and economy of word-use. This is a book to keep, to re-read and to give." - Neal Ascherson

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