At once a delightfully inventive chronicle of Freud’s last days and an insightful reflection on Freudian existence.
I first came across Tel’s genius in The Beijing of Possibilities where he fills the pages with slyly connected stories that fall into place only at the very end. Freud’s Alphabet is his first collection and unlike the delightful Beijing of Possibilities, it is a whole lot more complex, smarter and perhaps just a bit inaccessible to people who are not familiar with Freud and his many theories concerning human psyche. Like me.
I believe I would have enjoyed the collection a lot more had I been better versed in Freud’s life and works. However, I have the scantiest knowledge, less than scanty, barely existing even, about Freud so I am forced to review this collection on the basis of its prose, the strength of its imagery and the slight insanity that manifested itself in a skein underneath the cadence of the written words. The stories play with language and images in a very interesting way. The stories are also collectively an ode to London. The stories are also a look at the world through a pair of spectacles that not many of us will ever get the chance to try on. The crispiness of the prose, the steadiness and confidence of the voice, these are all very interesting aspects to many of the stories. I also really liked the exploratory feelings towards expression and language in some of the stories.
I enjoyed this collection but not as much as I enjoyed Tel’s sophomore collection. This felt less human and more clinical for some reason. I hope Arafat’s Elephant is a funner read. I’d recommend this to aficionados of Freud and psychology rather than the average reader.