Do you enjoy weird novels, the kind that don’t have a linear narrative, or complex character development to speak of, or even necessarily a discernible theme?
At this point, maybe you are wondering, what on earth is left without those? In the case of Mark Haddon’s The Porpoise, I’d suggest atmosphere and a certain stylistic swagger. Think of someone who can pull off a top hat and tails in the 21st century, or a full ball gown on the NYC subway. Anachronism that commands attention without seeming to seek it. If I don’t seem to be making sense, well, either you will enjoy this novel for what it is, or you might end up wanting to throw it across a room. I fell into the former, personally. Maybe because I’ve grown mentally drained from the relentless judgment and condescension of so many myth retellings, I found it diverting to simply sink into this bizarre, alien world and walk around in it.
The Porpoise seems to be a retelling of (or inspired by) an ancient novella about one Apollonius of Tyre, a fellow who is persecuted and compelled to wander after uncovering a king’s incestuous relationship with his daughter. It reminded me of ancient Greek prose narratives like Daphnis and Chloe and Callirhoe, themselves filled with absurd scenarios, melodrama, improbability while also being quite affecting and poignant in what they signify.
Tell me: What is the weirdest novel that you have enjoyed, even if you can’t understand why you loved it?