A revisionist view of Noah’s Ark, told by the stowaway woodworm. A chilling account of terrorists hijacking a cruise ship. A court case in 16th-century France in which the woodworm stand accused. A desperate woman’s attempt to escape radioactive fallout on a raft. An acute analysis of Gericault’s "Scene of Shipwreck." The search of a 19th-century Englishwoman and of a contemporary American astronaut for Noah’s Ark. An actor’s increasingly desperate letters to his silent lover. A thoughtful meditation on the novelist’s responsibility regarding love.
These and other stories make up Barnes’s witty and sometimes acerbic retelling of the history of the world. The stories are connected, if only tangentially, which is precisely Barnes’s point: historians may tell us that "there was a pattern," but history is "just voices echoing in the dark; . . . strange links, impertinent connections." Fascinating reading from the author of Flaubert’s Parrot , but not for those wanting conventional plot.