The Paris Review

Relationships Normally Beyond Our Knowing: An Interview with Madison Smartt Bell

Linear time doesn’t exist in Madison Smartt Bell’s new fever dream of a novel Behind the Moon, at least not for long. The fractured narrative centers on a young woman named Julie who falls into a deep Badlands cave while fleeing would-be rapists. In her liminal, un-, or semi-conscious state, she’s able to interact with the prehistoric paintings on the cave walls. Elsewhere, in interspersed sections, her mother—who gave her up for adoption years earlier—is lured to the hospital to which Julie has been transferred and where she remains in a coma. A shady shaman also steps in to help, or to attempt to. The novel works in disordered and mystical ways. It maintains a remarkable ability to surprise.

Bell is likely best known forNarrative Form: Working with ImaginationCraft, and FormSave Me, Joe Louis Waiting for the End of the World Zero dbThe Barking ManBehind the Moon

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