Book Review: In Transit: An Heroi-Cyclic Novel by Brigid Brophy

Author: Brigid Brophy
Title: In Transit: An Heroi-Cyclic Novel
Publication Info: New York, Putnam [1970, c1969]


This bizarre novel is a work of modern fiction set in an airport, and like the architecture of airports it is very modern but dated in the way that modern things from the 50’s, 60’s & 70’s seem to age rather quickly.  The narrator is “in transit” – between flights – at the airport having decided to skip the ongoing flight and reflecting on the narrator’s past life and the undefined status of being in transit.  Suddenly, the narrator cannot remember his/her sex and rather comically tries to figure that out.  More odd events transpire eventually leading to a rebellion against the airport.  The book is full of wordplay, especially puns, and satire of the modern world.   It’s the best book with a gender-ambiguous narrator that I’ve read since Written on the Body by  Jeanette Winterson.

Favorite Passages:

“Have you noticed how little of the twentieth-century life is in fact conducted in twentieth-century surroundings?  There are precious few places where you can glance unhibitedly round you and be sure of never placing eyes on an artifact that’s an anachronism.  Indeed our century hasn’t yet invented a style — only a repertory of cliche motifs which aren’t in fact functional, since they can  be stuck on anywhere, but which imitate the machine-turned and stream-lined and thereby serve the emotional purpose of signaling that our century prefers function to style.” – p. 22

Recommended books: At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O’Brien, Under the Net by Iris Murdoch, Written on the Body by  Jeanette Winterson and In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan.
Rating: ***

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