Lives are turned upside down by a bureaucratic error in this Kafkaesque work of neo-absurdism.
This was, as I have already said, a weird book. I have to admit, I was expecting more speculative fiction than I got, but there wasn't zero. The story follows four people, two each twenty-two years apart, and some of the ways in which their lives intersect. There's Paul, whom one could call the main character, although the story doesn't really revolve around him. Paul's story starts when he finds himself declared dead although he clearly isn't (actually, this confused me for a little and had me thinking he might be a ghost or something), and leads him to embark upon trying to get the paperwork fixed so that he can exist again.
Along the way, he meets a girl called Benjamin and has a brief fling with her. The other two characters, whose stories are mostly told twenty-two years earlier, are Paul's parents, Derek and Amy. The two women have the most speculative elements in their stories, surrounding Amy's pregnancy and Benjamin's age, but I probably shouldn't say more than that. The book masterfully ties the lives of four people together in unexpected ways.
Although this is not quite the kind of book I would normally read, I enjoyed it. I am definitely interested in reading more of the author's work, although I imagine I will lean more towards more speculative stories than this one. Meanwhile, I recommend Formaldehyde to fans of absurdist or Kafkaesque stories.
4 / 5 stars
Format read: Paperback!
Source: Purchased at Continuum from Slow Glass Books
Challenges: Australian Women Writers Challenge