The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy is a very smart book about the difficulty of seeing ourselves and others clearly.
A man in London attempts to cross Abbey Lane (where the Beatles’ iconic picture was taken in 1969). It is 1988, just before the fall of the Berlin Wall, and he cross again in 2016 (Brexit). In East Germany a woman is obsessed by the Beatles. This story slips and slides between time, countries, ways of seeing. Things are fragmented. In order to cross the road that he’s been trying to traverse for 30 years, Saul will not only have to look both ways, but outside of himself. Otherwise, he is destined to remain a man in pieces, and lonely in space-time continua.
The story feels like the lyrics of the song Penny Lane where the character is looking back, in and out and through his life littered with people, friends, lovers, experiences. It’s hard for him to make sense of it all — a fugue, a narcotic haze?
I loved the continuous references to the Beatles and their songs and how Abbey Road is linked to the story, how the crossing is made or not.
There is a sharp sense of what it means to look back on a life and construct a coherent whole from its fragments.
- Hardcover: 208 pages
- Publisher: Hamish Hamilton; 1 edition (3 September 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0241268028
- ISBN-13: 978-0241268025
- Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 2.3 x 22.2 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 281 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,753 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)