“Billions of tiny cocoons hang woven into its threads, a lizard lying in the sun, a burning house, a dying soldier, everything dead and everything living. Time is big, yet it has room for new cocoons. A grey and relentless net, in which every second of my life is captured. Perhaps that’s why it seems so terrible to me, because it stores everything up and never really allows anything to end.”
This story is morbid, disturbing and I loved it. It had me in a soft but firm grip, and there are no chapters, just a breathless report stretching 238 pages. The main character goes off for a holiday in the mountains and finds herself the sole survivor behind a transparent wall. The book follows her as she undertakes the task of surviving – cutting wood, planting crops, milking a cow… The narrative skips between the past and present, and that required processing but also made the read even more engaging. Even as it was clear that things would not generally go well, I was engrossed in the details, trying to guess what happens next.
This is not a fast-paced science fiction novel. It is an ode to the natural world and the human spirit. It is a simple story, told in beautiful prose. But as to whether the protagonist truly finds equanimity, I do not know.
[The book was first published in 1963, and I have never heard of the author. I am so pleased I chanced upon it at the bookstore.]
“But if time exists only in my head, and I’m the last human being, it will end with my death. The thought cheers me. I may be in a position to murder time. The big net will tear and fall, with its sad contents, into oblivion. I’m owed some gratitude, but no one after my death will know I murdered time. Really these thoughts are quite meaningless. Things happen, and, like millions of people before me, I look for a meaning in them, because my vanity will not allow me to admit that the whole meaning of an event lies in the event itself.”