Saturday, July 14, 2007

The last of Zen

In the June 30 Guardian, Mark Lawson found Michael Dibdin's new End Games shot through with clues that Dibdin had turned his mind toward "last things," a poignant reminder of Dibdin's death in March at age 60:

Paradoxically, though, End Games is not obviously an acknowledged finale, though there is, for the reader particularly alert to clues, a rather circuitous inclusion of the word "tomb" in a climactic, and otherwise optimistic, paragraph, as well as an odd, brutal reference to a medical condition that seems to have no functional purpose within the book. Otherwise, it is energetically and meticulously written, and the longest novel in the [Aurelio] Zen series. There is, perhaps, one other subtle indication of a writer knowingly book-ending his career or, at least, one sequence of novels. In the last paragraph of Ratking, the 1988 story that introduced Aurelio Zen, the detective, walking home, notes that "the sky was clear and littered with stars". Almost 20 years on, as he enters the final pages of what we now know to be his last case, Zen looks to the heavens and regrets that light pollution has largely obliterated this natural illumination: "[Within] his lifetime that celestial array had been erased like a medieval fresco gaudily overpainted in a more enlightened era."
© Peter Rozovsky 2007

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