This was an infuriating book. I wanted to sympathise with the protagonist, a strugging historian with writers' block on a collision course with academic failure. But I couldn't, because he was a dick and he deserved to fail and his wife should've bloody well left him years ago.
So I kept reading for the alt-history which Our Protagonist was researching. Markovits has invented, and inserted into the history of geological research, a character named Sam Syme, a university dropout who may have come up with - embedded in a completely mad scheme of a hollow earth - the idea of continental drift. Markovits' work here, retelling the history of "geognosy" and weaving his character into it, is fascinating. And I really fell for it when another character, a German aristocrat with some background in geology sent by his father to investigate the prospect of funding this mad Syme creature, showed up. Muller I loved: a dandy, a loner, strangely in love with Syme but nevertheless unconvinced by his theories. So I kept reading for Muller, in the hope that Muller might achieve some kind of interesting character development. And he did, to some degree, but he never told Syme that Syme was a dick and also completely bonkers about geology. That was aggravating.
By the end of it, ALL the characters, including the historian's wife and Muller and EVERYONE annoyed me.
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