Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dying Inside

I stumbled across Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg in the new science fiction books at our public library. I confess to having been familiar with neither the author nor the work, which is a recent reissue of a 1972 novel. There was a positive blurb by Michael Chabon on the cover, so I read it. It is a fine novel, reflecting the tenor of its time and place (New York City in the 60s and 70s for the most part), but not dated. Through a series of vignettes and flashbacks, we follow our protagonist-narrator, nearing middle age, as he comes to grips with the loss of his telepathic powers. I guess the telepathy is what qualifies the book as "speculative fiction," but it's really a meditation on identity, love, and solitude... and on our uneasy relationship with that capricious Old Testament god, whether or not he exists. I thought of Philip Roth, without the humor or the rage. Dying Inside is not as good as Roth at his best (when the Nobel prize?), but better than a minor Roth. It is worthy of (re)discovery.

1 comment:

  1. Silverberg was one of my favorite writers in the 60's and I am surprised he is still around. One of my old favorites: Up the Line (1969) a great time-cop story - predated by a whole lot the Van Damme Time Cop movie.