On the eve of his 50th birthday, Mike Frame is looking at the accoutrements of his conventional, married life in a quiet English town, and feeling very disassociated from it all. It's more than just the moroseness of a bored, middle-aged man, though. This really isn't his life. Or wasn't. He used to be Chris Carver, and in the late Sixties he'd been a political idealist in love with a beautiful firebrand; a member of a radical leftist group that protested and demonstrated and, when that failed to get the world's attention, began to plant bombs.
Hari Kunzru, who wasn't yet born when his protagonist was having his political awakening, has done his research. He situates Chris at several key moments in the history of 1960s and 1970s British radicalism, and genuinely makes it seem as though they're being vividly experienced for the first time. And he does this while maintaining the same urbane narrative voice, so that he can slip fluidly between the novel's various timeframes, and can view youthful idealism through the prism of middle-aged dissatisfactions. It is a deceptively complex and full portrait of a fractured and incomplete man.Reuse content