Oscar Babel wants to be a great painter but he can’t get his act together. He asks his friend Daniel Bloch, a popular novelist, to help him and Bloch hits upon the idea of writing a story about Oscar, a fiction whose inventions might galvanise Oscar into action and inspire him to take control of his life. Instead the invented details start to come true in reality. Oscar acquires a cat, his landlord suddenly becomes kindly, and he takes up nude modelling. Eventually he becomes wildly successful, not as a painter, however, but as a kind of contemporary messiah, aided and abetted by the diabolic publicist Ryan Rees, whose goal is to manipulate and control opinion and systematically destroy any notion of truth, via the media and the Internet. Meanwhile Oscar’s friend Lilliana agrees to pretend to be the fiancée of Alex Sopso, a self-confessed charlatan, an event that leads both to her near death, and, eventually, to an encounter with real love as she falls for a man who has set fire to his own house in a desperate attempt to erase his past and its ghosts.
Oscar Babel’s pathway into success is at the same time accompanied by the mental deterioration of Daniel Bloch who renounces the world and his body in a demented bid to find enlightenment. On the way Bloch is re-united with the father who had an affair with Bloch’s own wife. Oscar, preaching the mantra that sexual love offers a gateway to the divine, eventually rejects his fame and constructed persona in order to live with the enigmatic and bewitching Najette, a painter who possesses the personal vision Oscar lacks and they escape to the countryside. But for Oscar the idyll is short-lived and he finds that he cannot hide out for long and he is compelled to return and come face to face with the dying figure of Bloch in a denouement that brings the novel to a totally unforeseen end.
Dozens of stories and characters make up the large panorama of this wildly inventive novel as the story charts one man’s surreal journey from obscurity to fame. The Fabrications is a meditation on art, identity, celebrity, love, sex, death and madness.
The centerpiece of the study was a magnificent mahogany desk. The only thing on it was an old Underwood typewriter. He hated computers and he sought to avoid contact with technology as far as possible and considered himself appealingly old-fashioned. The wooden floor was littered with pens, books, sheets of paper. Below, he could see a small boy delivering papers, and a lady walking her poodle. Further down a man was struggling with the padlock of a fish market. He studied them for a few more moments.
No more popular junk. Time for something else. Barny can hound me but I shall not dance. I danced too long for Natalie. And five years ago I threw my dad off the dance floor when he joined her there. Old lech.
Eggs. He had a sudden longing for eggs. He passed through to the kitchen, found some, cracked them with a chef’s precision and watched as they gurgled and popped in the oil of his battered frying pan. A teapot was unearthed from the wreckage of a cupboard and a plate and cutlery were laid out carefully. As the toast got under way the telephone started ringing. It was still far too early for a phone call.
‘Did I wake you?’
‘I can’t talk about it over the phone. I’ve been up all night. Can we meet? I need to see you. Really.’
‘Well, when? Not now?’
‘Say in a couple of hours? Can you come to the cinema? I’m here now. We could talk in the projection room. I have to see you.’
‘At the cinema? Do you ever actually leave that place? All right. Around eight, then. Is there a bell or something? Do I knock? What do I do?’
‘I’ll leave the back door open. Just walk in.’
‘Does this door have any distinguishing features?’
‘No. It’s just black and rusty.’
Daniel Bloch returned the phone to its cradle, and ate his breakfast. It already seemed as if the day’s promise had been ruined.
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