The narrator of A M Homes's new novel has a habit of making contradictory statements: ‘Everything today is not the same, and yet it is exactly the same and it can never be the same again’; ‘The city in the distance was both so large and small’; ‘The comfort of the familiar had become uncomfortable; it was too comfortable and not comfortable at all’; ‘It was a game and it wasn't a game’; ‘The conversation is at once intimate and incredibly distant’. And so on.
It is hard to know what to make of this stylistic device. I wondered whether it was emblematic of the author's prose style or symptomatic of the hero's malaise. Richard Novak is recovering from a suspected heart attack so it's no wonder he is feeling discombobulated. But, even so, the