Boy on the Wire Hardcover – 13 Aug 2015
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Praise for WALL OF DAYS
'A riveting and overwhelming story, told by a consummate storyteller who appears well set to become a defining novelist of our time
Alastair Bruce's exceptional first novel has echoes of J. M. Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians ... a compelling dystopian fantasy and a baffling mystery story (Financial Times)
An elegantly-sustained parable of tyranny, loss and memory (Guardian)
An intelligent, perceptive and subtle exploration of important themes (Independent)
Wall of Days is a brilliant debut novel, in fact it is a brilliant novel altogether. The prose is understated and clear, and the narrative arc buries complex ideas of guilt and accountability within simple events (Cape Times)
This book has wiped the floor with me! Intense, powerful & deeply unsettling. (Jane Rusbridge)
A haunting examination of guilt. (John Harding Daily Mail 2015-08-14)
A beautifully written, stirring exploration of truth, memory and guiltSee all Product description
Top customer reviews
In South Africa in 1993, mum, dad and their three sons aged 8-12 stop for a picnic. The boys wander off. Suddenly, two of them have fallen off a cliff. One dies, the other is injured and the youngest observes it all. It is he, John, who is the subject of the book. What exactly happened that day? The answer to that question is the rest of the novel. It's about secrets, guilt, sibling relationships and the emotional scars some childhood experiences leave for a lifetime.
I found it brooding and dark. There is little character development and, as I've said, basically no story. However, as a psychological study, it has merit and there are many who like such books. I am not one of them.
I loved reading every page of Boy on the Wire by Alastair Bruce. I highly recommend this novel. There is definitely a lot of suspense running through the pages. This is a story of three ordinary loving brothers that were going to jump from high rocks into the water. A tragedy happens. Which brother is telling the truth into the secret of their young brother's death. The boy on the wire shows how quickly an ordinary family life can take one dark fatal turn and nothing is never the same after. There is a tangle of excitement to this roller coaster dark tale to find the truth.
Being so short at just 210 pages, it's a good length to read in a few days - I would consider it an 'art piece' of the literature world, due to it's detachment with traditional storytelling.
It's a difficult book to summarize. It is narrated from various points of view at different times - sometimes in the third person, sometimes in the first – and concerns John Hyde who is now a successful London banker. At the age of eight he witnessed the death of his older brother in a fall and has always held his other brother responsible. The book concerns his shattered family and his relationship (or lack of relationship) with them, and how returning memories may bring trauma and possible healing.
It's a haunting book, almost nightmarish book at times, in which there is little plot to speak of. Bruce is concerned with the nature of memory, of how memories both false and true can affect our lives and of how lives may be impacted by shattering events, even events of long ago. Beginning quietly, he creates a strange, semi-hallucinatory world in which reality, memory and illusion become indistinguishable – and if you've read Wall Of days you will know what I mean. He's brilliant at it, using short, direct sentences with few adverbs or adjectives and almost nothing in the way of simile or metaphor. It's extremely effective, but this time I think Bruce overdoes it. The book is only just over 200 pages long, but even so, the lengthy central section narrated by John in the first person feels too long. The atmosphere of isolated, nightmarish haunting by lost memories, never being sure what is real and what is imagined is built slowly and devastatingly, but blimey – it does go on. Even the climax felt a bit dragged out, not least because it seemed fairly clear from early in the book what was likely to be revealed. (And don’t look for neatly tied-up endings, by the way.)
I rather felt that this was a less successful attempt to tread similar ground to Wall Of Days, and although I am glad to have read it and some bits will stay with me, I have only reluctantly rounded 3.5 stars up to four on the grounds that it's very well written and three stars seems churlish. I can only recommend this with reservations.
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