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Old November 3 2012, 07:52 PM   #150
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Re: TP: Brinkmanship by Una McCormack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

I really liked this novel, and how much it played with the idea of perspective: a theme highly suitable for a novel about espionage, certainly, but more so a text with a heavy emphasis on gender politics and identity.

Since the reader only encounters other characters mainly through four points-of-view, they are entrusted with a heavily claustrophobic perspective. Consider the figures of Gardner, Allen and the Cardassian negotiator. Each is subject to disconcerting shifts in character: one of these is explained to the reader, that is the latter, when it is revealed she was enacting a political game to unsettle the Tzenkethi. However until that point we are simply told 'trust me' through Dygan. Confined as we were to limited perspectives, it was not simply that we couldn't get into their head, but that their contradictory elements of character (or different parts of personality) could not be explained. This felt very much a literary realist tool, emulating our highly limited perspectives of people: especially people not seen in years or newly encountered. Our interpretations are prone to how little we know about a given person, and it felt like McCormack was challenging a general trend of over-explanation for the audience. Therefore Neta's, Ezri's and Dygan's views on these characters were subject to changes that rarely were given clarity to the audience (for the example the aforementioned negoticiator), and which only enhances the text.

This was most fruitfully done with the confusing behaviour of the spies, of course. Consider the shifts of how Ezri interprets, Allen, her old friend. The spy becomes the more opaque to the reader, more unknown, just as most people in life are to one another. He is wonderfully positive and charming in his introduction, and then hours later, something entirely different, yet entirely explicable by the novel's end, oscillating between different identities. And of course, in reverse, he was equally disconcerted by this new other, this Dax too.

The terrible senses of disenpowerment and enpowerment that perspective allows the viewer/self, be this in social interaction, or within academic discussion of gender studies, feminism and social interaction, were such fundamental elements of this wonderfully subtle novel.
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