The truth is all around you
Thomas P— is exhausted. He’s been travelling for work so much he barely knows where he is. And then, while waiting for a table at a restaurant, he sees someone from his past. Exactly as she was twenty years ago, when they first knew each other. Deeply shaken, he tries to carry on as if nothing happened.
But when it happens again, in a different restaurant, in a different city, Thomas’s world begins to unravel. Haunted by a magnificent black parrot and a past he wants to forget, he becomes paranoid, unsure whether he can trust himself and the world around him.
After he sees another friend he thought he had forgotten, he realises he is lost and alone, and afraid of his own mind. Then an enigmatic woman tells him he is not seeing things but rather his memory has been mined to create life-like androids that are replacing the human race one by one.
And then he is arrested.
Will Thomas resist the mysterious woman and get his life back? Or will he join her cult and take up arms in the fight to save us all?
The Nucleus of Reality, or the Recollections of Thomas P—, is the story of a man trying to remember why he ended up losing everything but himself.
This book has the most unreliable narrator I have ever come across. I felt like I was slowly losing my mind as he was losing his. Thomas is empty and I am not sure if it’s through lack of food and sleep or if it has always been lying dormant and those things just triggered the onset of madness.
His marriage was hollow and in his words “Marriage was a coat that belonged on someone else’s shoulders. It never suited or even fitted me.” His job is no longer fulfilling and then he starts to see things that don’t make sense. Lucy a woman from his past, looking exactly the same as she did twenty years ago. More than that she has the same mannerisms and he is convinced that it’s her and what he sees is true.
But while he was so sure of what he was seeing I was the complete opposite. This is when it takes a turn into sci-fi and at one point the narrator even addressed me, the reader directly. Loved that!
This book is not for the faint hearted, it has mental health issues running as a concurrent theme and if you are even slightly depressed this could tip you over the edge as it portrays in my opinion the brink of sanity and it’s impact. The sci-fi element had glimpses of The Matrix and it felt, as it jumped between tenses, that I was lost down a rabbit hole and like Thomas trying to seek a way back to normality.
About the author
L. A. Davenport is an Anglo-Irish author and journalist.
Sometimes he lives in the countryside, far away from urban distraction, but mostly he lives in the city. He enjoys long walks, typewriters and strong black coffee.
The genesis of The Nucleus Reality, or The Recollections of Thomas P—, began in the queue for Wagamama in Liverpool. I was in that great city for a conference, and I was exhausted and somewhat disorientated. Really, I just wanted to go to bed, but I needed to eat more, and so there I was, standing in the queue, my mind racing but latching onto nothing.
Then, while I was waiting my turn, I saw the most extraordinary thing: A friend of mine, right there in front of me, exactly as she was twenty years ago. I was stunned. For a second I wondered whether it actually was her. But of course it wasn’t. Was it? And if it wasn’t her, how could someone look so much like her? And why now, why here, in a place with which neither of us had a connection?
It took an instant for me to realise that there was a story in this, and I began to construct the opening scenes while I waited to be seated. Realising that a) I would forget the details if I didn’t write them down and b) the whole story was crystallising in my mind in one go, I pulled out my notebook and started writing. For the rest of my meal, and under the puzzled gaze of the man sitting opposite me, I sketched out the plot from start to finish, writing in a blur, trying to pull down onto the page all the people, scenes and many, many ideas that filled my mind.
When the waitress, who with patience and kindness had indulged my distractedness, finally brought me the bill, I sat back and flicked through my notes. Here was a book, I realised, not just a set of ideas; moreover, a book that was ready to be written.
But it didn’t turn out like that. I had that experience in the restaurant towards the end of 2019, and we all know how things turned out the following spring. Still, the idea wound’t go away. Indeed, as I adapted and moulded it over the coming months, it grew, becoming ever more complex and so much more than a book about the consequences of someone realising they can no longer trust what they see.
It began to encompass ideas about the nature of memory and recall, our sense of identity, what it means to be disassociated from ourselves, how the cruel exploit the vulnerable and care nothing for the consequences, and the impact of severe mental illness on both the individual and those around them.
Then in August 2020, I finally had the chance to start writing again. I thought it would be difficult to write this book, especially as I knew I wanted it to be in the first person, but it was strangely easy to find a voice and let it flow. I realised I’d been wanting to write something touching these topics for a very long time.
L. A. Davenport is author of the novel Escape and the short story collections No Way Home and Dear Lucifer and Other Stories, as well as the memoir My Life as a Dog.
The Nucleus Reality, or The Recollections of Thomas P—: https://pushingthewave.co.uk/books/ the-nucleus-of-reality/
My Life as a Dog: https://pushingthewave.co.uk/books/my-life-as-a-dog/ Escape: https://pushingthewave.co.uk/books/escape/
No Way Home: https://pushingthewave.co.uk/books/no-way-home/
Dear Lucifer and Other Stories: https://pushingthewave.co.uk/books/dear-lucifer-and-other- stories/