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The story of a life told backwards. Its narrator, Doctor Tod T. Friendly, trapped and hurtling towards a terrible secret, moves out of the blackest sleep to find himself surrounded by doctors and on the deathbed of a man in whose body he is imprisoned.
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Amis attempts here to write a path into and through the inverted morality of the Nazis: how can a writer tell about something that's fundamentally unspeakable? Amis' solution is a deft literary conceit of narrative inversion. He puts two separate consciousnesses into the person of one man, ex-Nazi doctor Tod T. Friendly. One identity wakes at the moment of Friendly's death and runs backwards in time, like a movie played in reverse, (e.g., factory smokestacks scrub the air clean,) unaware of the terrible past he approaches. The "normal" consciousness runs in time's regular direction, fleeing his ignominious history.From the Inside Flap:
e's Arrow the doctor Tod T. Friendly dies and then feels markedly better, breaks up with his lovers as a prelude to seducing them, and mangles his patients before he sends them home. And all the while Tod's life races backward toward the one appalling moment in modern history when such reversals make sense.
"The narrative moves with irresistible momentum.... [Amis is] a daring, exacting writer willing to defy the odds in pursuit of his art."--Newsday
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