‘It is Tuesday the 43rd of March and I have hanged myself.’

So begins the narrator of ‘Oblivion’, as he relates how he tried to take his own life, but finds himself still alive, dangling from a tree. The story then goes backl to uncover how our man ended up in that situation; he was an antiquarian investigating the Tullis family, whose gravestones suggest remarkable longevity, and sometimes bear impossible dates. John’s explanation for all this is intriguing, and its consequences within the story bring a shiver to the spine; but the prose is frequently overstuffed (e.g. ‘the bizarre dates on the stones were beyond any conjecture I could fashion – their mystery stood impenetrably obscure like hieroglyphs from a forgotten language’), which reduces the impact of the tale as a whole.

Rating: ***