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This review is taken from PN Review 83, Volume 18 Number 3, January - February 1992.

PROSPERO'S PROPP Stuart Hood, A Den of Faxes (Methuen) £13.99

In P·N·R 15(6) Stuart Hood has an essay 'The Dreamer in Broad Daylight', about the drives and dynamics of imaginative writing and its relationship to day-dreaming and fantasy. Peter Sinclair, the central character In this new novel, has just such a preoccupation, alongside a book he's trying to write on the political failure of the avant-garde, and a need to reflect on his experiences as a war-time saboteur in Italy, a need made more urgent by the suspicion that he has a melanoma. Sinclair sees himself caught up in a flight, a fugue, from getting. to grips with his book and facing his illness, and the form of A Den of Foxes is also a sort of fugue, interweaving the lines of several narratives.

It's a restless novel. The conventions of any one narrative line aren't allowed to settle, just as they're not allowed a reliable purchase on the events they produce. A war-game correspondence, which takes Sinclair back, literally, to the scene of his own war-time experiences, generates. a game-scenario which then prompts him to write a science-fiction story and that in turn incorporates an Apologia which he goes on to write for his own 'real' child. In parallel, the male character in the science-fiction also plays war-games devised by another Peter Sinclair and based on a Second World War battle in which Sinclair (the 'real' one) took part. As Sinclair fills the blank screen on his lap-top, so the narrator (a hooded version of Hood?) ...

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