Tim Lott – The Seymour Tapes

If I would describe The Seymour Tapes (2005) by Tim Lott it would be a contemporary fiction novel on the making of a non-fiction novel in which the reader gets all the essentials of non-fiction novel and much more. Just this unusual setup makes this novel a fascinating read. Lott presents his novel as a documentary with himself in the role of the writer. Instead of getting the actual documentary, the reader gets it in a different format. Like in a making-of he decides what we read and when we do so. This of course to get the right effect, but also to create variation between the so-called documentary parts and the making-of parts. With this he keeps control over the perspective of the reader. You don’t know more than what he is giving away. As the novel progresses this allows for twists and surprises even as some things that are to come are disclosed during the story. Even so these disclosures allow the reader to pay more attention to scenes to come, so I would call it quite an effective method, for a change.

The unique structure is not without its flaws. Certain developments, especially those outside of the documentary, are a bit too much made convenient for the plot. The balance between the two setting is precarious. Is the reader been given wrong impressions or is it just for effect? The hiding of information is one of the reasons why I finished the novel not wholly satisfied.

Speaking of satisfaction: The events of the documentary are rather to the contrary as they depict tragic and disturbing events. Most striking is that Lott presents his characters absolutely natural and very recognizable. Their motives and peculiarities are nowhere that strange or far from real life. As a whole the characterization is one of the very strong elements of this novel. Lott keeps things simple and down to earth. The events could happen anywhere. They will give the reader plenty to think about. It certainly had been a while since I read a psychological novel that hit my own feelings at some levels and that questions one’s behavior that many people these days have become quite familiar with.

The Seymour Tapes is a stunning novel, very accessible and recognizable with a unique structure that will keep the reader hooked while the content is actually somewhat creepy. It is not a perfect novel, but impressive enough as it will be able to hit some marks in the years to come. Especially in these times it has timeless elements, even though it contains very contemporary elements. Recommended.


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