This book deserves attention, and is in some ways Sontag's best fiction. Rough in some places, painfully rough, the prose grinds through the protagonist's agony, lightens with his fancy, slips away from coherence as he slips from coherence. This is writing on a par with a rough and angry, poignant and bittersweet symphony. It reminds me more of the Shastokovich Symphony no. 7, "Leningrad", than of any other book that I have read. Read it. Read it twice because the first time it can hardly be taken in. This is the story of man's hallucination during and after his suicide. The surface tone is cold and metallic, distanced. But underneath it is achingly, sadly, brutal. Interpret this story. Exercise your mind, your powers of analysis and of sensation. This is a layered piece of writing that holds up and puts out on many levels. And don't miss the exquisite prose on pages two through four.
Susan Sontag's Death Kit opens as the story of a man who, in the course of a train journey, becomes convinced he has recently killed someone. The fact that he tried to kill himself only a short time ago gives the reader a clue; perhaps Diddy's version of events is not entirely reliable. And as the story progresses, the varied characters flitting in and out of his life begin to a take on an image more symbolic than personal. The dead railwayman, the blind lover, the jovial fellow employee...
As Diddy drifts into dreams and memories, the feeling of unreality grows. How much of this is present, how much past, how much just dreamed? But the truth has a way of revealing itself. Even as Diddy grows more unhinged, the reader begins to grasp where his tale will end up.
Death Kit is an oddly intriguing, absorbing tale, not entirely satisfying or dissatisfying, but hard to put down, with some beautiful images and haunting turns of phrase. It's a long, slow, sad, literary read, and an interesting introduction to the concept of the unreliable narrator.