ALL THINGS CEASE TO APPEAR - ELIZABETH BRUNDAGE *****
I don’t know if the title of this book is a known saying or epithet, it isn’t credited as such but it brought to mind the pragmatic Sanskrit concept of ‘Pratītyasamutpāda’.
And it was a pleasure to read this book, no, it was more than that, it was a privilege. A beautifully constructed story that luxuriated in the depths of its language. Some perceptive metaphors and observations that make you think ‘Yes, that’s it, exactly’, as you read it. A novel where you savour every word, for every word fulfils its role in this story. Ms. Brundart’s words are characters too.
This is a multi layered fiction; on the surface it tells a chilling, thrilling, unsettling tale of families in a small town, an octopus novel with its tentacles delving richly into the psychological, the spiritual, the supernatural, sometimes gothic, sometimes contemporary, moving between time periods. And it’s also an eloquent piece of prose writing where words and phrases can lift and inspire you as only a good writer can do.
The characters are keenly observed and developed, brought to life as we are encouraged to both loathe and empathise and our emotions are manipulated almost but with the assurance that what we are feeling is just how we should feel. The writer seems to be able to get under the skin of all, particularly the women in the novel, despite their difference in age and personality. They are all three dimensional.
In some ways it is a book without a conclusion but paradoxically the conclusion was always there right from the beginning. The plot is almost clear from the start but in a curious way the plot is secondary to the other aspects of the novel, another character, as it were, satisfying its role in this story.
I am tempted to put aside other commitments and seek out all of Elizabeth Brundage’s other work for she is a new writer to me.
But I’ve waxed lyrical about this book long enough. Long enough, I hope, for you to seriously consider reading it.