The style ‘reflects’ other novels and which ‘explains’ its title ‘Journey East: Homage to Fiction’ a gothic-comic-literary-adventure-romance-suspense narrative.
Julian Bone gives up work becoming a semi-recluse, continually reading his book collection, and re-playing in his mind the last months at work, the psycho-boss and the bizarre work environment. He maintains superficial contact with neighbours as well as his brother and sister. Nothing happens except that his retired next door neighbour prowls about suspiciously. Bone’s intense reading (pre-Kindle) has led to complete dissociation with life. He lives through books and whoever calls at the front door. As his life descends to a halt after many years he changes, wishing to re-enter humanity and puts the house up for sale, and advertises the book collection looking for buyers. One afternoon, during the literary festival a librarian arrives who wants to buy books and does so on behalf of himself and a friend who is a bookseller.
The librarian explores the garden which is a maze of nine sheds of books and with great difficulty closes a deal on the entire collection. The librarian and the bookseller become enmeshed in a tragic/comic series of events through the books that involved Bone accompanying them as a personal therapy to re-engage with humanity. For Bone the journey leaves him debilitated as he re-visits places in his earlier life. The librarian is (falsely) accused of stealing a Ford Transit full of books and ends in jail. The bookseller’s nephew and the librarian’s daughter form a relationship that ends in disaster. Otherwise Bone tries to extricate himself from these people and find solace.
Bone begins travelling and goes to the East aimlessly, wilfully, but is unable to settle anywhere. In an Indian Ashram, he finds solitude just like he had achieved in the bungalow. He becomes dissatisfied with the contemplative life and impulsively like a character in a romance novel, falls in love with an American photographer, Helen Whitman in Singapore. Their life pursues a domestic period of bliss until the cracks appear and on the verge of breaking-up they re-unite having conceived a child. The child is born and they find a new life together beyond themselves as if in a novel of domestic realism. But the narrative freefalls out of control as it moves towards conclusions that are possible, probable, realistic and surreal. The ultimate outcome is based on the novel’s plot, convention, conviction and dynamics as Julian Bone is tracked by his brother and sister to the bungalow yet they cannot find him.