Most authors, from the notorious to the no-name, understand that certain things are required in a book: story, for example; viewpoint; and character. Then there are those like Josephine Hart, who, in her third work of fiction (Damage, Sin), appears to have jettisoned the lot. Featuring yet another pretentious one-word title, Oblivion is narrated by a recently widowed husband — the host and interviewer of a literary TV talk show — as a kind of memoir-diary of his life, written for his dead wife. This means, primarily, that her name — Laura — is repeated over and over again, and that some ambivalence is expressed toward his new lover (soon to be wife). Such is the plotline. However, because the musings of a very depressed person who is neither very active nor introspective are not a very involved affair, Hart includes a few other elements, such as the actual diary of the deceased wife’s mother, which serve mostly as inflationary measures. Take them out, and what you are left with is not Damage but a Sin. D
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