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The Lightning Cage 

The Lightning Cage (1999)
A novel by Alan Wall

In this sophisticated, complex and oddly moving novel, Alan Wall presents the reader with studies of two men: Christopher Bayliss, the present-day protagonist, and Richard Pelham, the 18th century poet and object of Bayliss's study. It is this double narrative, the second of which is refracted through the interpretative curiosity of Bayliss, that makes this novel such a subtle meditation on contemporary life, while at the same time augmenting the book's pace and rhythm. Wall's cleverly constructed work affords the pleasure of two interwoven stories that are both absorbing and compelling, as well as offering material for more profound reflection.

Christopher Bayliss is a man who has renounced his religious studies and abandoned his thesis, and we are witness to his defection from the world of the mind to the material pleasures of the business world. But Bayliss, like many of the characters in the contemporary part of the book, is seen to have withdrawn from any real engagement with the world, and with life. His lover, Alice, a gifted painter, is almost somnambulistic in her passivity, but nevertheless discerns in Bayliss a deep disengagement with life. She at least has her art; he in turn has drawn back from almost all avenues of self- definition. Richard Pelham, on the other hand, is revealed as man almost too sensitised to the world around him, to the point of putative insanity--and it is between these two poles of engagement and withdrawal that the book oscillates, carefully counterpointing a subtext that explores the mythologies of artistic genius, responses to mental instability and the ways in which people direct or succumb to their lives.

Wall deploys subtle shifts in stylistic register between the two narratives to good effect. The material of the two lives is echoed in the prose used to recount them; what results is a work that combines literary complexity and narrative drive without sacrificing either. --Burhan Tufail

Used availability for Alan Wall's The Lightning Cage

See all available used copies of this book at: Abebooks UK or Abebooks US


Hardback Editions

March 2003 : Hardback
Title: The Lightning Cage
Author(s): Alan Wall
ISBN: 0312287720 / 9780312287726 (USA edition)
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Availability: Amazon   Amazon CA   Amazon UK   

August 1999 : Hardback
Title: The Lightning Cage
Author(s): Alan Wall
ISBN: 0436204916 / 9780436204913 (UK edition)
Publisher: Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd
Availability: Amazon UK   

Paperback Editions

August 2000 : Paperback
Title: The Lightning Cage
Author(s): Alan Wall
ISBN: 0099289539 / 9780099289531 (UK edition)
Publisher: Vintage
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon   Amazon CA   

December 1999 : Paperback
Title: Lightning Cage
Author(s): Alan Wall
ISBN: 0436318180 / 9780436318184 (UK edition)
Publisher: Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd
Availability: Amazon   Amazon CA   Amazon UK   

Kindle Editions

July 2014 : Kindle edition
Title: The Lightning Cage: A Novel
Author(s): Alan Wall
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Availability: Amazon   

May 2012 : Kindle edition
Author(s): WALL ALAN
ISBN: B0081C6D64
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   


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