Sammary book "The Unfortunates" by B.S. Johnson


"The Unfortunates" is a novel written by B.S. Johnson, first published in 1969. It is a unique and experimental work that challenges traditional narrative structures and explores themes of memory, loss, and the nature of storytelling. The book is often referred to as a "book in a box" due to its unconventional format.

The story revolves around the unnamed narrator, a sports journalist who is sent to a city to cover a football match. While there, he receives news of the death of his close friend Tony, which triggers a flood of memories and reflections on their shared experiences. The narrator embarks on a journey through the city, revisiting places and people associated with Tony and his own past.

What sets "The Unfortunates" apart is its structure. The novel consists of 27 unbound sections, or "unbound chapters," enclosed in a box. The reader is encouraged to shuffle and read the sections in any order, except for the first and last chapters. This non-linear narrative mimics the fragmented nature of memory and the process of piecing together a life's story.

As the narrator delves into his memories, he contemplates the nature of storytelling itself. He acknowledges the limitations of language and the inherent subjectivity in recounting events. The book becomes a reflection on the human condition and the challenges of capturing the essence of a person or an experience in words.

Throughout the narrative, the narrator encounters a range of characters, each representing different facets of his past and various aspects of his personality. These encounters prompt him to confront his own mortality, the fleeting nature of time, and the ways in which people are interconnected.

"The Unfortunates" is not a conventional plot-driven novel, but rather a meditation on memory and identity. Johnson's experimental style and use of non-linear storytelling create a reading experience that is both challenging and rewarding. By subverting traditional narrative techniques, he invites the reader to actively engage with the text and participate in the construction of meaning.

Overall, "The Unfortunates" is a thought-provoking exploration of memory, loss, and the art of storytelling. It pushes the boundaries of what a novel can be, emphasizing the subjective and fragmentary nature of human experience. B.S. Johnson's innovative approach and poetic prose make this book a unique and memorable reading experience.

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