The anonymous narrator in Alf MacLochlainn’s Out of Focus has more than blurred vision when he looks at the world around him as he recuperates from his many minor accidents. His visual perception or skewed perspective is a working out of the author’s theory taken from William Molyneux’s statement in 1692 “that an object may be seen in two places yet not seen double.”
Whether he is on his bed looking through the crystal of his watch, or in a hospital bathtub peering into the overflow opening, or sitting on a chaise lounge with an empty barrel of a ballpoint pen or ring from a beer can to his eye, or back in his bed looking through a gauze bandage, this very accident-prone hero/victim manages to see inside what appears to be real-life scenes going on outside.
And when he is not playing the voyeur, his mind runs on zany inventions (natural/non-natural bust supports and shot-proof crystal eye protectors, for example) and pseudo-pedantic discussions about optics, clocks and cycling designs.
Although everything about this novel is original—plot, style, illustrations—it tips its hat in passing to some of those who have gone before: Beckett’s Malone Dies and Molloy, and the narrators of At Swim-Two-Birds and Cadenza.