PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
M. Wynn ThomasThe Other Side of the Hedge
(PN Review 239)
Next Issue Fire and Tears: a meditation, VAHNI CAPILDEO Grodzinksi’s Kosher Bakery and other poems, MICHAEL BRETT Vienna, MARIUS KOCIEJOWSKI In conversation with John Ash, JEFFREY KAHRS Play it all the way through, first – but slowly, KIRTSY GUNN
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
Monthly Carcanet Books
PN Review Blog

This article is taken from PN Review 51, Volume 13 Number 1, September - October 1986.

A Note on 'Imaginary Women' John Thompson
Imaginary Women, the work-in-progress from which this section is taken, is Mike Westlake's third novel. His first, One Zero and the Night Controller, was published by Routledge & Kegan Paul in 1980. His second, The Utopian, remains as yet unpublished.

One Zero and the Night Controller interweaves two 'voices', that of a male London minicab driver (No. 10) and that of the woman dispatcher who is in radio contact with all the cabs. (One needs to put 'voices' in scare-quotes because of the anti-naturalistic relationship maintained between the characters and their speech.) For One Zero, the Night Controller Angelica, ex-prostitute, now Mistress of the Grid, is an Imaginary Woman of unique importance: 'Without her I do not know where I should be.' One Zero gets involved in a vaguely Chandleresque plot involving a search for a missing girl (Imaginary Woman 2) which explodes in the end in a most unChandleresque way (Chandler rewritten by Rabelais? by Lautréament?). But he is more preoccupied with speculations of a philosophical, semiotic and psychoanalytic nature; faced with a photograph which he ought to be treating as a clue, One Zero's uncontrollable impulse is to launch into a comparative disquisition on the Image versus the Word, and it is with some irritation that he reports at one point, 'As the exigencies of the Quest heighten, or deepen, I discover that the theoretical is lagging behind the practical ...' Angelica meditates on her present position and her past life, culminating in the birth of her ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image