|SORT OF BOOKS|
the guardian Fri 26 August 2011
Daniel Brennan, the physically deformed yet remarkably chipper narrator of Jonathan Buckley's seventh novel, goes to his brother's house to die. Rather than settling into a sulky meditation on chronic illness, the following 300 pages are taken up with lively memoirs, wherein Daniel details both his own corporal decline and his siblings' reckonings with middle age. Buckley handles this unusual narration well, drawing out a lovingly nuanced portrait of the Brennans without the text reading as if it should accompany some medical documentary. Occasionally, the pace gets a little too swift, with whole families of minor characters summed up in a few lines: "Christian (eldest brother) worked in Brussels, advising on the formulation of European agricultural policy; Emeric was a cardiologist in Paris; and Ursula ran her own design studio, specialising in hi-tech furniture." Still, Buckley leavens the prose with plenty of cute similes: a worn-out LP sounds like a "rhino chewing a bale of cellophane". Unusual in both form and conclusion, Telescope is about as life-affirming as a book about one man dying can be.