Eva Figes Timothy Mo - Essay

Timothy Mo

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Discreetly under-pinned as it was by a wholly unexceptionable feminism, I felt a bit of a lout for disliking Eva Figes's Days as much as I did. For 113 leaden pages her narrator, an unnamed woman, lies sick in a hospital room commenting grumpily on her surroundings and reminiscing obscurely about the world outside. Her supremely trite reflections are pretentiously arranged in little paragraphs widely spaced. This sort of bashful mental lint-picking can't be remotely cathartic for the author nor is it kind to the reader. If Miss Figes wished to convey the texture of hospital monotony as rebarbatively as possible she has succeeded, but surely the point is to transform the experience imaginatively. One feels special exasperation because Miss Figes is capable of more. It takes discipline to force yourself to write as drably as this, but there are more efficacious courses of self-improvement. 'It is nice lying here. It is warm. I am being fed, I am being washed. The nurses are kind.' Miss Figes's spare, runic style was perfectly suited to B, her riddling thriller about character and creativity, but she ought to diversify the style and intelligence she is so perversely concealing.

Timothy Mo, "Sick Fantasy," in New Statesman, Vol. 87, No. 2235, January 18, 1974, p. 86.∗