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  • Writer's picturemichaelkjarvie7


Updated: May 27, 2023

My work in progress Sonata Form is a 63,000 word literary novel, metafictional in nature, set in one specific location, namely Nottingham. The topography of this place is included in much the same way as James Joyce incorporates Dublin into his masterpiece Ulysses – in other words by using real locations and actual street names. As for the title, the musical staves in an orchestral score are the train tracks along which the protagonist is moving.

The blurb is as follows:

Brock is at a major turning point as he approaches his fortieth birthday.

When he accidentally encounters Shannon, a university student half his age, he soon discovers that sexual obsession is the most addictive and dangerous drug of them all.

Locked within the orbit of this complex and mysterious figure, she introduces him to a secretive world of kink and fetishism.

His infatuation with Shannon and her circle of friends rapidly leads to his life spiralling out of control. But are the events he so vividly recounts real, or the product of his overwrought imagination?

Set in Nottingham, Sonata Form is a metafictional novel that explores the uncanny, doppelgängers, déjà vu, and the unreliability of memory.

A comparable title would be Eliza Clark’s Boy Parts published by Influx Press. The forty-year-old protagonist Brock (or Max) is a complex and mysterious figure, at a crossroads in his life, having taken a career break. He resembles the special investigator Wallas in Alain Robbe-Grillet’s nouveau roman The Erasers or, for that matter, K. the Land Surveyor in Franz Kafka’s The Castle.

Additional sources of inspiration for Sonata Form are as follows: Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s Venus in Furs, Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice, Georges Simenon’s The Man Who Watched the Trains Go By,Vladimir Nabokov’s Laughter in the Dark and Despair, Michel Butor’s A Change Of Heart, Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City, Patrick Modiano’s The Black Notebook and Missing Person, together with Luis Buñuel’s film That Obscure Object of Desire.

Although Sonata Form is unashamedly a literary novel, you will find no Aga mentioned in this book, no nanny, no private school education, no Airbnb, and my protagonist does not work as a barrister. Instead, my milieu is thoroughly working class. The gatekeepers are adamant that this work will never see the light of day under their watch. Never fear. Plans are already underway for the book to be self-published. After all, why shouldn’t I emulate the following writers – William Blake, Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf and James Joyce – all of whom self-published during their lifetime? If it was good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.

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