When it comes to narrative art, there are two broad groups among readers, viewers and the like: the tyers and the looseners. The tyers like their narratives, by the end, to be wrapped up in a neat little bow, all plot points addressed, each stray storyline bound satisfyingly into a unified whole. The looseners, on the other hand, are far less fastidious. Art, for them, is about asking questions rather than providing answers. They want works that are suggestive and slippery, open to multiple readings; knots that can be untangled, each strand of thought the starting point for further thoughts and sensations. Most of us, of course, exist somewhere on the spectrum between the two, tolerant of the weird and left-field but keen still for works to achieve some kind of aesthetic wholeness, to obey their own internal logic.
Catherine Lacey’s new novel, The Answers, will, I suspect, infuriate tyers, at least those of the more finicky sort. It is one of those books that prompt the thought, ‘I don’t really understand what’s going on here, but I’m pretty sure it will all become clear in the end.’ That