Van has finished reading…The Weightless World by Anthony Trevelyan

18 Jun

Suddenly it’s a worrying thought: Steven Strauss and I, sitting together in companionable silence, looking out at the world and saying, ‘people! Pffh!’

It’d be all the connection we need. I suspect we’d get on.

I am profoundly grateful to the Curtis Brown Book Group for bringing me Anthony Trevelyan’s The Weightless World as my last book of this stint. We started with a very high bar and with this book we’ve most definitely finished in a similar stratosphere. What you need to know about the story I think can be summed-up with two words: Antigravity machine. This is enough to get the book into your hands, but it’s a very, very long way from all this book has to offer.

Raymond Ess and Steven Strauss are on their way to meet Tarik – if he really exists – somewhere in very rural India to buy his invention, an antigravity machine – if it exists. But why shouldn’t it? The magic of Skype can bring Steven’s girlfriend half way round the world to talk to him. Harry’s SmartSpecs can bring the full force of the Web to his eye as he sips his hotel bar cocktail. Why not a machine that can render any object weightless?

The writing is, I think, really rather wonderful. Steven’s voice is exquisite and the trajectory, the positioning of events is really superb. The skill with which the author takes us back in time, reveals a little of the past is evident in just how natural those moments feel. Their very looseness in the narrative belies the control inherent in their perfect placement. It’s a lean beast too. I was reminded of Checkov’s gun, though not only by a gun. Nothing is wasted.

With such a cast of characters it’s perhaps unsurprising that it proved to be an unsettling read. Everything requires scrutiny, Steven’s narration perhaps most of all. It’s a skewed lens he looks through, though I’d struggle to state he’s unreliable. It seems more that he struggles with his worth, struggles to connect with people. Perhaps more that he can’t be entirely honest with himself rather than with us. There are trust issues for Steven and reader alike. Ess, Harry, Asha, Tarik? Take your pick.

It is evidence that you don’t have to like the protagonist to really like the book. Or maybe I’m being disingenuous; after all, I suspect we’d get on…

It won’t be surprised to see this book at the very least on shortlists, if not on podiums for prizes. I’m still questioning what it is saying to me, and I’m sure I will go back and read it again, delight in the story, the characters, the writing, again. It is, I think, that good. It carries a certain sense of – how should I say it – gravity.

4 Responses to “Van has finished reading…The Weightless World by Anthony Trevelyan”


  1. The Inaugural Curtis Brown Book Group – my first six months as a #CBBookGroupie | vanisreading - 01/07/2015

    […] The Weightless World by Anthony Trevelyan […]

  2. The #CBBookGroupie playlist | vanisreading - 09/02/2016

    […] Theme, The Weightless World by Anthony […]

  3. My top 5 reads of 2017 | vanisreading - 10/01/2018

    […] of whom produced stunning debuts (Fran’s excellent These Dividing Walls and Anthony’s sublime The Weightless World, both of which deserve to be very widely read). So here’s wishing you all health and happiness in […]

  4. Van has finished reading… Claudia by Anthony Trevelyan | vanisreading - 14/03/2018

    […] when we had the pleasure of reading his excellent Desmond Elliot Prize longlisted debut, The Weightless World. I’m very pleased to say that his second novel, Claudia, is every bit as […]

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