Picks and Pans Review: Oblivion

updated 11/13/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/13/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Josephine Hart

After doing Damage and committing Sin, British novelist Hart has consigned herself to Oblivion in her third novel—and it's as bleak a place as it sounds. Slim and staccato-like ("I am. I was. I will be.... That's all."), Hart's new book explores the idea that "real death" comes only when we're forgotten by the living.

The story begins promisingly enough—London TV journalist Andrew Bolton finds himself torn between remembering his dead wife and embracing a new love. But just when Andrew's plight has piqued our interest, Hart interrupts the narrative to insert the text of a play—all 100-plus pages. A collection of monologues on death, the drama helps Andrew conclude that life's show really must go on. ("Happiness is a choice," the platitude-spouting playwright tells him. "Make it. And don't cry") Well, okay—but it's hard to imagine Hart's audience sticking around past intermission. (Viking, $19.95)

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