In this U.S. debut by the renowned British author, museum curator David keeps a journal that is filled with fragments of life remembered, imagined, and recorded, moving from memories of his past life with lover Imogen or with his ex-wife, Samantha, to reflections on the lives and relics of female saints or the history of medicine.
Always excellent on social and family dynamics, Buckley surrounds Imogen and his narrator with keenly observed characters ... Buckley has a mind like a cabinet of curiosities crammed with weird and wonderful stuff. Combining images of Imogen with choice specimens from it, he pieces together what you gradually recognise as a meaningful mosaic. Matching the book’s central subject, post-mortem motifs predominate ... There’s engaging information about relics ... Among the book’s ravishingly visualised scenes of natural beauty, sunsets noticeably stand out. Transience and mortality suffuse Buckley’s novel but, in elating counterpoint, it sparkles with intelligence and zest for life’s pleasures.
'a constellation of moments' searching for harmony. By the end, we learn more about the narrator than his beloved ... one reads this beautifully written book because the author provides food for thought with reflections on love, the imagination and death.
As with many of Buckley’s books, The Great Concert of the Night is structured as a series of riffs—or rifts rather—which allow for lava-like eruptions of memory and great salty lakes of observation. Transnational and transhistorical, Buckley’s terrain is a vast territory rather than a particular place or a time ... Bravura passage follows bravura passage, to the point not only of superabundance but of superfluity. As Buckley hauls out yet more personal relics from the narrator’s memory for our perusal, the vast array becomes overwhelming. But perhaps that’s the point ... The odd leaden insight or observation seems unworthy of the brilliance elsewhere on display, but the figure of Imogen—figured and refigured in descriptions of her various screen roles—remains fascinating throughout.