Trawl

Trawl - B.S. Johnson In his third novel, the experimental novelist (a term he came to dislike), pursues relentlessly his mission to write truth rather than fiction. Largely a roman à clef, then, it differs in the starkness with which the author lays bare his own thought processes. There is no attempt at all to show himself in a good light, a point he acknowledges just once in the book. The narrator comes across, for instance, as pretty misogynistic and rather adolescent. It is in this aspect that the novel is experimental and at its most bold. Structurally, it's fairly conventional. The narration is part-stream of consciousness, which was nothing new at the time, and sometimes contains strangely old-fashioned phrasing - "But is it she?" - reminiscent of the Victorian revivalist novel of which he was so dismissive. There's no plot, which is good for its experimental credentials - man sails out of Grimsby as a non-working guest on a deep-sea trawler and reflects upon his earlier experiences - but could be a problem for some readers, depending on how they view a "good read". It's beautifully written, though, and I enjoyed the "present moment" sections best, with their descriptions of deep-sea fishing.