In Retrospect. "Black Mirror" by Gail Jones. [review]
This is an alluring example of the retrospective novel, one that uses the device of a biographer's interviews with her subject to prod the reconstruction of memories. It is retrospective not simply because it ranges over the greater part of the twentieth century, but because it consists almost exclusively of two long backward looks. The subject, Victoria, is urged by Anna, the biographer, to recall her childhood in a gold-mining town in Western Australia (Kalgoorlie?) and her flight in the 1930s, as a young artist, to Paris, where she finds herself caught up in a surrealist circle of painters and writers (Marcel Duchamp, André Breton, Max Ernst, even Salvador Dalí). Anna herself is impelled by both Victoria and the challenges of biography to recall her own youth in the same town, sixty years later.