Friday, 16 February 2018

Oliver Loving - Stefan Merrill Block

Uncomfortably topical in the wake of this week’s Florida High School shootings this novel documents such an event and dissects all that happens before, during and after from the perspectives of those affected by the tragedy. 

At the risk of offering a spoiler, here is a wonderful  sentence that serves as a kind of leitmotiv throughout the book and I feel it pertinent to quote in full - ‘Once upon a time there was a boy who fell through a crack in time but he didn’t fall all the way.’ I don’t wish to give any more away although the cover blurb does allow us to understand that Oliver Loving does survive the shooting but ‘survive’ becomes a nebulous term. 

This is what I like to call an onion book. The writer peels off the layers chapter by chapter as he progress through his narrative. It’s not a fast paced book, it’s slow and ponderous, as the characters, and the readers too, try to make sense of what has happened. They deal with their thoughts and try to cope with their fragile emotions. It’s a cerebral work, beautifully and intelligently written with quite stunning prose that has a most pleasing flow to it.

You could actually remove the tragedy and still have a novel of some worth driven by the Loving family with all their quirks and hang ups. These characters, all flawed before tragedy struck, attempt to deal with their struggles and diverse ways of coming to terms with the tragedy. Given the world we live in today, how many of us ever stop to think about how we would behave and react if such a situation as this were to strike at our very heart? This book encourages us to consider such a situation in a very real way.

It’s not a book to lift your heart but it is a most worthwhile read to celebrate the art of novel writing when it is executed so almost perfectly here and to offer us food for thought about what drives people to such acts of violence and how those left in its wake continue with their lives. Thanks to Readers First for a copy of this book.

No comments:

Post a Comment