Disenchanted ex-Private Secretary publishes extraordinary novel: The Night Traveller by MJ Maguire

Sep 6, 2010 Full story: I-Newswire.com

Mark Maguire, previously Principal Private Secretary to the Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales Lord Elis-Thomas, has published a fascinating angst-ridden novel.

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Helen Wright

London, UK

#1 Sep 9, 2010
I'm half way through this and it is an intriguing idea - and hard to fathom, too, but beautifully written and kind of unsettling. I'm not sure where it's going yet, but I'll definitely finish it. It's easy to see there is a lot of mental anguish woven into the novel and having just come across this press release I wonder how much of it is derived from the author's experiences? I normally throw books out after I've read/leave them on trains or sell them on EBay - but I think I'll keep this one: I think I will want to return to it at some point. HW
Natalie Newman

London, UK

#2 Oct 1, 2010
I agree it is a strange one. The main character is in search of beautiful woman he has a series of encounters with - he knows little about her and his efforts to find her lead him to a series of dead ends. It is written superbly and the encounters themselves are haunting and evocative. I have read the whole thing and it isn't at all easy. In some ways it's an existential novel in the European tradition, but it does have such an individualistic streak, which becomes increasingly apparent as the main character suffers greater isolation, that in the end it focuses on the reader and the problems of the main character become purely those of the reader. It's a startling novel, whatever you make of it in the end!
Dave Pritchard

London, UK

#3 Oct 2, 2010
Natalie Newman wrote:
I agree it is a strange one. The main character is in search of beautiful woman he has a series of encounters with - he knows little about her and his efforts to find her lead him to a series of dead ends. It is written superbly and the encounters themselves are haunting and evocative. I have read the whole thing and it isn't at all easy. In some ways it's an existential novel in the European tradition, but it does have such an individualistic streak, which becomes increasingly apparent as the main character suffers greater isolation, that in the end it focuses on the reader and the problems of the main character become purely those of the reader. It's a startling novel, whatever you make of it in the end!
I'm not sure about the "existential tradition" bit - I think the distinction is that the reader is led to distrust free will and doubt its relevance to the argument. Although at times Steven resolves "to act, to form views" etc, this is never convincing and is more an expression of his attempt to test his ability to "exert himself on the world". I think the point is that the purpose of the novel is doomed for much of its course as the author (through Steven) acknowledges, because it is "impossible to tell someone they don't exist - or at least it is pointless". That holds good until the end when the sudden - almost direct - address to the reader brings the whole point of the novel crushingly upon them. That's the startling thing - the intellectual engagement of the reader is brought to bear on the question of their knowledge and its basis. I think we agree on that last point anyway!
Katie Johns

UK

#4 Oct 5, 2010
The above comments were helpful - especially from Dave Pritchard. It just struck me that yes, I loved the book, but I have so many questions concerning it! I would love to discuss this here. First off, who is Jane and what is her significance? And I am confused about Katya too - are we supposed to understand what becomes of her? At the end there is so much in doubt that I find myself very puzzled! The other reviewers seem to have a better grasp than me! I thought the book was the most intriguing thing I've read and I've had it buzzing around my head like a bluebottle in a jar for 6 days now!

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