Gail Scott’s “The Obituary”

Buying a 3-month membership to Ancestry.com might be the closest I’ve ever come to going on a bender. There is something about genealogy that I find positively addictive. Each ancestral coupling leads backwards to another and another, like cells dividing. Recovering the path between us and our ancestors is like reading a mystery novel, and a real page-turner at that. Who did what to whom? When? And what’s going to happen next?

Gail Scott’s last novel, The Obituary, isn’t really about genealogy, but it enacts a similar search. Genealogy is, after all, the creation of a narrative, and for Scott, all narratives are lyrical, fragmentary, corrupted, and incomplete. My complete review is on Rover now.

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