Crossing the Lines, Sulari Gentill: ideas, entertainment and satire

Sulari Gentill, author of Crossing the Lines. is a book that smiles and offers cake while it thinks. Sulari Gentill delivers ideas and narrative entertainment, and it’s a bonus that her novel is also sub-acidly satirical. When a friend irritated by protagonist Madeleine’s unavailability laughs in response to her apologetic explanation that she is completely herself only when writing, “scorn was cut into the mirth like some bitter essence folded into whipped cream”. Events are set in motion when an arts critic and former book editor named Vogel is found dead in the stairwell of an Australian city gallery, his head “peculiarly offset from his neck”. An amusing but consciously flimsy whodunit results, while in parallel a tragicomedy of thwarted creativity in a rural domestic environment evolves. Correspondences abound. Madeleine, heartbeat of the domestic story, is a crime writer who understands herself to be imagining the protagonist of the whodunit into being and improvising that plot. The whodunit’s protagonist, litterateur Edward, believes he has discovered the down-market writer character Madeleine and is recording and influencing her fortunes. Gradually the two protagonists advance from observing each other across the notional lines separating them to transitioning into each other’s worlds, at […]

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