Tunc is really only half a novel, since Durrell had planned throughout to continue and conclude it in Nunquam, and there is nothing like a conclusion evident in the first book. Still, it’s a pretty good half-novel as I rank them. The style is very 20th-century modern, perhaps midway between Malcolm Lowry and Thomas Pynchon, complete with the latter’s tendency to interject funny songs and verse. Protagonist-narrator Felix Charnock is an inventor whose fortunes become embedded in the multinational firm of Merlin Industries. He has gone to ground in Athens after a circuit that began there, led him to Istanbul and thence to London. His original technological forte is audio recording, but during his late time at the firm he has applied himself to the extracurricular development of Abel, a computer dedicated to the purpose of divination on the basis of recorded speech and other data. Tunc is a retrospective exercise, just as Abel is coming fully on-line. Charnock reflects on his friends, lovers, and professional associates since the days of his independence in Athens, charting out a wide-flung web of psychological manipulation and frustrated desires.
The book and its sequel are together titled The Revolt of Aphrodite. I’ll take a breather before reading Nunquam, but it’s firmly on my list to be read.