Books 2009: Andrew Crumey - Mobius Dick

About eighteen months ago I read Scarlett Thomas' The End of Mr Y. I really enjoyed it and recommended her to several people. I regret doing that now I've read several books by her. Earlier I wrote this:

I do not know why I’ve read three Scarlett Thomas novels because if you take away the colourful packaging of a) metafiction (”The End of Mr Y”), b) anti-consumerism (”PopCo”) and c) popculture (”Going Out”) you get pretty much the same novel.

New Age health solutions? Check. Schrödinger’s cat? Check. Main protagonist being into her math puzzles? Check. Slightly deviant sexual orientation painted in a fairly vague way? Check. C-category drug use? Check. Vegetarianism or some variant upon it? Check. Internet featuring heavily? Check.

Andrew Crumey's novel, Mobius Dick, has me hoping that I have found the novel I thought I had in my hands when I read The End of Mr Y. It is a dazzling, original novel which defies easy categorisation (postmodern metafiction? science-fiction? thriller?). Like Thomas' book, Mobius Dick takes its cue from theoretical physics, the idea of parallel worlds and the intersection between literature and science. However, unlike Thomas, Crumey is in full control of his material and does not take the reader on unnecessary detours (although getting to the "end" is quite a roller-coaster ride).

Will I read more Crumey novels and discover he is a one-trick pony much like Ms Thomas? I hope I'll end up discovering a new favourite author. Right now it feels as though I have. Explaining the plot of Mobius Dick terrifies me slightly, so suffice to say that it feels like a bit Jorge Luis Borges mixed with David Mitchell and a dash of early Alasdair Gray. Heady.