A Very Persistent Illusion is a hard book to define. It's a mystery story, but it was the philosophical aspects that led to me picking it up. I'm immediately drawn to anything with a slight philosophical slant so when I read that the central character in this book doubts reality, whether he really exists and if the people around him exist, it was almost guaranteed to appeal!
Chris Sorenson seems to have a good life. Good job, nice girlfriend (Virginia) and sexy sports car to travel about in. His only problem is that he doubts that any of this is real. At one point he compares himself to living in a virtual reality world where everyone and everything in the world is only there because he can see them. In fact, the nature of reality is explored in some detail with some chapters concerning the lives of the very philosophers who propounded ideas of the nature of reality, and whether anything actually exists if it is not perceived by anyone else.
But aside from the philosophical aspects, there is a plot running throughout this novel. Chris is unsure where his relationship with Virginia is going, and thinks it is a one sided relationship (more her side than his). But he still gets on well with her parents, an when her father dies suddenly, and her mother reveals a secret. Chris gets drawn into a mystery that forces him to confront his own past, as well as his present and his future.
Reality plays a large part in this book, in various guises. There is the previously mentioned philosophical ideas that are central to Chris' understanding (or lack of understanding) of himself. But Chis is also forced to confront the reality of his relationship with Virginia, which ends up being totally different to his assumptions, as well as the realities of his past which have so obviously shaped his outlook on life, and Virginia herself has her own realities to deal with which alter her perceptions of herself.
Now, having just read back what I've written, this sounds like a really heavy book, but it isn't at all. The mystery is appealing, and it's full of dark humour and even some laugh out loud moments. The Sorenson-Birtwhistle scale of girl rage for example, which is Chris and his mate's numerical scale to grade the intensity of rage in a woman, in minute increments. I haven't done this book justice, but I really enjoyed it.