Elliot Perlman’s “Seven Types of Ambiguity” is a huge read, and I’m not just speaking of the weight of it, or number of pages, but of its scope, its depth and its heart. Perlman tells the story of a man obsessed with a lost love, an obsession that continues to thrive over more than a decade. When that man kidnaps the woman’s son in order to prevent her decisions from hurting the boy, his actions affect several people. The way Perlman chose to structure his novel is interesting. It’s narrated by seven different people: Simon, the obsessed philosopher; Angelique, Simon’s friend and lover who makes her living as a prostitute; Anna, Simon’s college sweetheart; Joe, a successful stockbroker and Anna’s husband; Mitch, a market analyst; Alex, Simon’s psychiatrist; and Rachael, Alex’s daughter. Each is connected to the rest through Simon. Each offers his or her own perceptions to the events that unfold, and the beauty of this dynamic is ambiguity is cleverly proven throughout the novel.
At times, the dialogue seems bogged down by exposition, but then, the whole 620 pages is rendered in conversation or confession: to the reader, to the court, to a friend, to a therapist. It’s like being at a thoroughly captivating, intellectually-stimulating party: sooner or later you’ll feel like you need a breather. That aside, this book is rich with ideas and rich in concept. It’s certainly one of the most fascinating books I’ve read in a while. It’s a long book. My advice is to stick with it—this book is definitely worth your time.
- My work can be found in REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters, The Jabberwock Review, The Emerson Review, Storyglossia, The MacGuffin, Confrontation, Passages North, SmokeLong Quarterly, elimae, wigleaf, Pank, New Delta Review, and Gargoyle #57, among others. One of my stories has been translated into Farsi by Asadollah Amraee, and many others by Jalil Jafari, two of which have been published in the Iranian journal, Golestaneh Magazine. Currently, I'm an Associate editor for Narrative Magazine. In 2011, I was awarded the Carol Houck Smith Contributor Scholarship for the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.