Betrayals by Charles Palliser

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Synopsis

At once a hypnotic murder mystery, scathing literary parody, soap opera, and brilliant pastiche, Betrayals is an astonishing virtuouso performance by a modern master of literary gamesmanship in the tradition of Vladimir Nabokov and John Barth.
The novel unforlds in a series of seemingly unrelated narratives, each written in a different style -- indeed, in a different genre. There is an obituary for a Scottish scientist and Nobel Prize winner, written by a colleague who clearly relishes his death. Early in the century, a train in the Scottish Highlands heads down the wrong track during a winter snowstorm, and the passengers are forced to abandon the train, resulting in the death -- or is it murder? -- of one of them. An inane publisher's reader summarizes the plot of a tacky hospital romance novel, which ends in a gory murder all too reminiscent of Jack the Ripper. Even a report on a contemporary academic controversy explodes into a scandal of plagiarism, shattered reputations, paranoia, and suicide -- or is it murder made to look as such?
As Palliser deftly teases out each new situation, it becomes clear that they are all variations on a single outrageous theme: a distinguished figure in some intellectual pursuit -- science, literature, academia -- becomes obsessed with the success of a rival and schemes his demise, only to botch the job out of sheer monomania. Like the scorpion that stings itself to death, each plotter becomes a victim of his own plot; each betrayer changes places with the betrayed in an intricate dance of deception, revenge, and revelation.
A challenging, engrossing, utterly original work of art, Betrayals is also pure joy to read -- a book that will make you laugh out loud, turn pages madly in pursuit of the next plot twist, and above all, marvel at the supreme ingenuity of a fictional puzzle in which the unlikeliest pieces fit together perfectly.
 

About Charles Palliser

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Charles Palliser is the author of "The Unburied, The QuincunCharles Palliser is the author of "The Unburied, The Quincunx, " and "Betrayals." He has taught modern literature and crx, " and "Betrayals." He has taught modern literature and creative writing at universities in Glasgow, London, and the Ueative writing at universities in Glasgow, London, and the United States. Since 1990 he has been a full-time writer. He nited States. Since 1990 he has been a full-time writer. He lives in London. lives in London.
 
Published January 1, 1994 by Jonathan Cape. 308 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Betrayals

Kirkus Reviews

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Along the way, Palliser deftly parodies deconstructionist criticism, the middlebrow style of Jeffrey Archer, three different pulp genres, perhaps the most obtuse serial killer's diary in fiction, countless historical takes on Jack the Ripper -- and, inevitably, his own professional anxieties, as ...

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Publishers Weekly

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Mixing a variety of genres and forms, Palliser examines the links between fiction and deceit.

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Publishers Weekly

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Invoking a variety of styles and genres-including whodunit, BBC soap opera, obituary, memo, academic treatise, true-crime, journal, epistle, translation and legend-Palliser fashions a series of stories preoccupied with rivalry and murder (including one possible murder early in the century and ano...

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Entertainment Weekly

B+ Originally posted Aug 23, 1996 Published in issue #341-342 Aug 23, 1996 Order article reprints

Aug 23 1996 | Read Full Review of Betrayals

Entertainment Weekly

The book is less a whodunit than a what-the-heck's-going-on, but Charles Palliser's brilliance almost matches his self-indulgence in this convolution of slyly-related Scottish murder mysteries, Betrayals.

Feb 10 1995 | Read Full Review of Betrayals

The Independent

the reader's report on the romantic novel supplies all kinds of information that the reader needs to know but which would in truth be absent, while the novelists' exchange of views is transparently written for the benefit of a third person.

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London Review of Books

indicated that at the very mathematical centre of the book – ‘the middle of the middle section of the middle Chapter of the middle Book of the middle Part’ – there lies a crucial missing portion of manuscript which means that ‘the linchpin of the whole novel is therefore a gap, a dizzying void’;

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Reader Rating for Betrayals
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