Adam Foulds's chilling new novel is likely to become a future news storyby Chris Moss / April 3, 2019 / Leave a comment
The more celebrity is diffused, the more it is ostensibly devalued—and yet still it creates superfans, obsessives, trolls and stalkers. Adam Foulds’s novella ponders this paradox through the relationship a lonely American woman believes she has with a British actor. Philadelphia divorcee Kristin has “redecorated her marriage away.” Her ex left her plenty of money and a beautiful but empty house. A chance meeting—real or imagined—with the protagonist of her favourite TV show, Henry Banks, leads her to think only he can show her the true nature of love.
Banks, meanwhile, is desperate to make the jump from popular telly to serious film. An audition with a maverick Spanish director is his chance to join the De Niros and Pacinos. Waiting for a decision, he leads a shallow, shapeless existence, flitting from private members’ club to exclusive gym to “work”—doing voiceovers for bank adverts—with a lightness of being that he suspects should be more unbearable than it is. His flat is a sterile, sky-filled nowhere, ideal for brief assignations with models and hangers-on picked up in bars and for checking his inbox incessantly for news from his agent. Every morning he hopes life will begin anew, like in an advert.
Nothing really happens in this slender work. Stalking, here, is an anticipatory state, a by-product of contemporary capitalism. Yoga classes, fad diets, cocaine, even decluttering, all figure. With shades of JG Ballard, Foulds teases violent subtexts from the blandest urban environments. His polished prose fits the two empty lives perfectly. If the denouement doesn’t quite match the suspense, that’s because encounters between the famous and their followers are doomed to end in misery, or criminality, or worse.
But Dream Sequence poses an important question: in an intensely mediated culture, in which mediocrities are “influencers” and the truly famous as omnipresent and all-powerful as gods once were, are they really stalking us? This chilling tale is as likely to become a future news story as it is a TV series.
Dream Sequence by Adam Foulds is published by Jonathan Cape (£14.99)