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Keeping fiction in the past

Pat Barker's talent for old wars does not adapt well to new ones. This failure to find power in the present stands as a core failure in British literary fiction

By Julian Evans   August 2003

Book: Double Vision Author: Pat Barker Price: Hamish Hamilton, ?16.99

What kinds of people make interesting fictional characters? The question ought not to be necessary. What matters, as EM Forster noted in Aspects of the Novel, is not who they are but that they are convincing, that we feel the novelist has not “designed” them but created them. Yet reading the novels of Pat Barker, it is a question that repeatedly obtrudes. To answer it in a general way, you would have to say “People who think.” Even in the case of her most physically active characters-her infantrymen of the…

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