Novels in which absolutely nothing happens are usually ‘B’ novels, those in Anthony Burgess’s memorable classification that are more concerned with meta-fictional tricksiness, problems of representation and the status of the art object than the ‘A’ novel, which is interested in narrative, character, and the unfurling of plot. This categorisation makes Jonathan Buckley’s new novel, Telescope, an interesting case, because although it is irrefutably a novel in which absolutely nothing happens (or nothing of any particular note, anyway), it doesn’t scream ‘B’ novel at all. There are no sentence-level pyrotechnics, no vertiginous shifts in perspective, no abrupt breaches of the fourth wall. Despite its lack of incident, Telescope appears, on the face of it, to be a fairly standard ‘A’ novel, and a pretty dull one at that.
The book takes the form of memoirs written by Daniel Brennan as he sees out his last days in his brother’s spare room. A sufferer, since childhood, from neurofibromatosis, a disorder that causes disfiguring tumours to appear all over the body, Daniel has been effectively housebound for most