Sunday, 29 September 2013

A Gripping Psychological Novel

I had misunderstood the rules of The Devil's Game (New York, 1980). Each contestant is not limited to presenting only a single challenge. S/he can present any number of different challenges between sunrise and sunset of his/her day although, in fact, the first two contenders, Larry Rance and Gayle Thayer, do each present only one. Neither of their challenges has eliminated any of the seven.

Rance could have eliminated three contestants but decided against it. Thayer fails her own challenge, to sit entirely still all day, but, as the one who brought the challenge, she can end it at any time. Thayer's chapter confirms that, so far, each contestant narrates his/her chapter in the present tense. Sitting still, she thinks a lot, thus informing the reader about her life.

During Interval Three, Haverner presents an excellently accurate character dissection of the contestant, Ellis Nordberg, ending:

"'I could go on, but no need. Either you do or you do not have a capacity for self-examination.'" (p. 88)

Samael appears in different ways. The first time, Haverner saw his own reflection moving independently and addressing him. During Interval Four, words appear on a screen. When the words refuse to provide requested information, Haverner speculates:

"' could not exist, Samael, except in a hidden part of my own brain, and be unwilling to admit it...'" (p. 112)

Samael replies that, if the words on the screen come from outside Haverner, then they are being recorded and can be played back or printed out. Haverner erases whatever was on the disc. Bad move, Haverner. Don't you want to know?

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