This collection of stories, mostly interlinked and largely autobiographical, chart the descent of the narrator from the onset of neurosis to final incarceration in a Swiss clinic. The sense of paranoia, of persecution by a foe or force that is never given a name, evokes The Trial by Kafka, a writer with whom Kavan is often compared, although her deeply personal, restrained, and almost foreign-accented style has no true model. The same characters who recur throughout--the protagonist's unhelpful "adviser," the friend and lover who abandons her at the clinic, and an assortment of deluded companions--are sketched without a trace of the rage, self-pity, or sentiment that have marked more recent accounts of mental instability.
Asylum Piece by Anna Kavan
Peter Owen Publishers 2001