Equilateral is an intellectual comedy set just before the turn of the century in Egypt. A British astronomer, Thayer, high on Darwin and other progressive scientists of the age, has come to believe that beings more highly evolved than us are alive on Mars (he has evidence) and that there will be a perfect moment in which we can signal to them that we are here too. He gets the support and funding for a massive project to build the Equilateral, a triangle with sides hundreds of miles long, in the desert of Egypt in time for that perfect window. But as work progresses, the Egyptian workers, less evolved than the British, are also less than cooperative, and a bout of malaria that seems to activate at the worst moments makes it all much more confusing and complex than Thayer ever imagined.
We see Thayer also through the eyes of two women - a triangle of another sort - a romantic one that involves a secretary who looks after Thayer but doesn't suffer fools, and Binta, a house servant he covets but can't communicate with - and through them we catch sight of the depth of self-delusion and the folly of the enterprise. Equilateral is written with a subtle, sly humor, but it's also a model of reserve and historical accuracy; it's about many things, including Empire and colonization and exploration; it's about "the other" and who that other might be. We would like to talk to the stars, and yet we can barely talk to each other.
Would you listen to Equilateral again? Why?
Nope. I would read it, but never listen to it again.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Equilateral?
I'm writing this review after one hour of listening. The entire concept of the novel is fascinating, but the reader is too distracting.
How did the narrator detract from the book?
The reader sounds mechanical, like a computer program that reads text back to the writer. His inflections are very odd and sounds more like a news correspondent than a professional reader of novels. He more often than not oddly raises his inflections at the end of sentences. Instead of finding myself IN the story, I feel like I'm on the periphery of the story, hearing some dude read it and sound as if he's getting paid to practice an accent.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
I would have liked to, but I decided to forgo the audio half of the Whispersync setup.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful