Three opens with the death of a young woman, identified only as S, possibly a suicide. Following her death, Ruth and Leonard—a middle-aged British couple whose marriage has devolved into pithy and bitter conversations—review the time S spent at their summer house.
In a lyrical prose style likened to that of such diverse writers as Virginia Woolf and William Burroughs, Ann Quin presents the enigmatic intricacies of the relationship between these three people by blending the conversations and flashbacks of Ruth and Leonard with the diary, audiotapes and movies S left behind.
A combination of laconic dialogue and poetic impressions, Three is an incisive exploration of the emotional and sexual undercurrents of British middle-class life.
Ann Quin (1936-1973) was one of the great unsung geniuses of 20th century British fiction. After a Catholic education, a brief stint of secretarial work, and a nervous breakdown, she began to write, and fell in with loosely-defined group of experimental English novelists that included B.S. Johnson, Stefan Themerson, and Eva Figes. Between 1964 and her suicide in 1973, Quin wrote four utterly unique novels, any one of which should’ve secured a lifelong reputation. Her work looks back to Beckett and Robbe-Grillet and forward to Markson, Sorrentino, Acker, and Bolaño. Berg, her debut novel, was the basis for the 1989 film Killing Dad.