on 13 November 2015
This is a sparkling little gem of a book, I couldn't recommend it more highly. I can see it's a book i will return to again and again. The pieces are short so you can dip in and out as you please, read them at random if you like, savour them in bus queues or when you only have a couple of minutes. The writing is impeccable, deceptively simple, but i can imagine the enormous work and crafting that's gone into making it so perfect. It's intriguing to wonder why the author calls it 'a novel.' It's certainly novel, but it's not A novel in the conventional sense, with a beginning, a middle and an end, etc. It doesn't have a unifying story or character or voice or theme. It just is. And it's lovely.
Will Eaves's latest novel, beautifully produced by CB editions, consists of snippets of many different voices in a variety of registers. Sometimes characters recur across the pieces (and I'm sure more connections will be revealed by re-reading) but the overall effect is of a mass of (English-speaking) humanity clamouring to be heard.
Some of the pieces are very funny, a set of lives revealed in a few sentences (see below for an example), others are poignant, and some philosophical. Often, being plunged in media res, the reader has to read every word several times to try and grasp exactly what is happening and work out the particular implications and assumptions of the speaker. A recurring theme is how we turn life into art and I enjoyed seeing the different routes by which Eaves approaches this subject. The result is a joyful reading experience and a book I will return to many times.
"We can take that tea-towel back to the city and wash it. I'm particularly fond of it because it belonged to my father and first came to the shack in 1979. What we need, in its place, are some tea-towels to which no one is too attached. I would suggest the little blue and pink jobbies we have at home, but I know for a fact those are Lionel's favourites. And so the search goes on."