on 9 March 2014
This is a book you won’t forget in a hurry. Jam packed full of action, thrills, drama, suspense, love, hate and hope. Open Distance’ is a book that captures you from the first page. The reader cannot help engaging with the protagonist and getting to know him straight away despite the fact that you don’t even know his name until a long way into the book.
He is narrating his life; baring his soul, exposing his thoughts and judging himself based on his life experience. It is my opinion that the most important element of any story is the characters, not the plot. The plot will follow where the characters lead, and my word do these characters lead. The raw and honest way in which the protagonist bares his soul made it incredibly easy to connect with him, and his emotional turmoil was not only compelling but also seemed to bring out the maternal instinct in me.
Within the first few lines I felt as though I’d know this guy all my life. What happened to him mattered enormously to me and although there were heart breaking moments, which reduced me to tears, I could no more turn away from this man than I could a best friend or family member in need. I suppose on many levels this is the kind of story we can all understand, because no matter how perfect our lives may appear we are always going to encounter tragedy and trauma. There are always going to be those relationships that are never going to be okay.
On the superficial level the story is about a fictional extreme sport invented by the protagonist called Aquagliding. In the telling of his story, the protagonist explains how the sport was born, how it evolved into an international sport with equipment manufacturers competing for the successful competitors for sponsorship deals. On a deeper and more emotional level the story is about the evolution of an international, highly competitive and dangerous sport, which I see as a metaphor for the development of the protagonist’s character as he grows up and matures into a father and a husband who loves his wife dearly. The risk to life and extreme danger presented by the sport of Aquagliding is a simile of the protagonist’s feelings for another major character who is estranged to him. Facing death, he records his life story into a voice recorder in a monologue analysing his behaviour and feelings for the other. He realizes that the resentment and hate he feels doesn't begin to tell the real or complete story.
This story carries a very valuable life lesson for the reader. A complex and important study of the human condition, and has taught me to consider any situation from the other person’s perspective. From that perspective you will find a completely different point of view that may change your judgement of a person or situation and may alter how you feel about things. Without giving too much away about the ending of the story, it is impossible to say what the protagonist felt at the end of the story, but as a reader who feels like they personally know all the characters in the story, I was heartbroken at least twice while reading the story and had a great deal of sympathy for a number of the main characters. Vorhis really brought the characters to life and he has done so with what can only be described as one of the most unique voices in literary fiction. A truly talented story teller and I look forward to his next book.