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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


A Labour of Moles

Ivan Vladislaviċ

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To purchase A Labour of Moles

Title: A Labour of Moles
Author: Ivan Vladislaviċ
Genre: Fiction
Written: 2011
Length: 40 pages
Availability: A Labour of Moles - US
A Labour of Moles - UK
A Labour of Moles - Canada
A Labour of Moles - India
  • With a Preface by Jan Steyn
  • With 19 illustrations

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Our Assessment:

B+ : clever little tale; a beautiful book(let)

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       A Labour of Moles is a quest tale of sorts -- philosophical sorts, among others: as the narrator notes at one point: "Dimly, I remembered a house in the suburbs, a seat in a bay window and a boy reading a book about the great philosophers of antiquity. How I wished now that I'd paid more attention".
       The narrator finds himself ... well, "in the thick of things" is how he puts it at the start of the story -- though he soon enough adds the more central question: "In the thick of what ?"
       "Let me ask the right questions", he reminds himself, but it's rather a difficult spot -- and, more generally, a somewhat confounding locale -- he finds himself in. It's a "broken world" -- though at least, he realizes, "an English world". Among the first characters he encounters is a murderer -- not an actual murderer, but rather: "the general idea" of 'murderer'. And slowly it begins to dawn on him: yes, this isn't the world as we know (and he once knew) it, but a rather more limited one of concepts and terms -- the pages of a dictionary or a similar well- (and alphabetically-)ordered reference work, with the narrator finding himself here among the Ms .....
       The narrator recalls that he used to be of the bookish sort, but that hasn't prepared him sufficiently for this particular bookish immersion. "Let me ask the right questions", he noted early on -- but it takes him a while to realize that "where I am" is not first and foremost what he should be puzzling over, since, after all, he ... isn't quite himself (or at least that former self he dimly recalls) in this very different world .....
       It's a clever little story, and quite nicely done. It's also beautifully presented in the Cahiers-series edition, with striking illustrations that take line drawings from an early twentieth century Bilderwörterbuch (a 'picture-dictionary') and cut, color, and collage them.

- M.A.Orthofer, 18 March 2012

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A Labour of Moles: Reviews: Ivan Vladislaviċ: Other books by Ivan Vladislaviċ under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       South African author Ivan Vladislaviċ was born in 1957.

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