- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 314 KB
- Print Length: 172 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B004EEPN0A
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #912,693 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Oblivious Kindle Edition
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This is not an easy fun read... I usually read very fast and wait until I have finished to absorb the meaning , but with this book I couldn't do that. I found myself stopping after each story to let it sink in, and I could only read two or three at a time. This is partly because they are quite gray and gloomy in mood, but also because there is so much more in them than the bare words. The writing is very economical, and never explains when it can suggest and leave you to fill in the gaps. The atmosphere was there from the start, but gradually a theme emerged, of relationships that are not working , and people who have given up. There is not a lot of hope here. There is despair, or desparation, or apathy, but no suggestion that the characters can find a way out, or even that they are looking for one any more.
I loved that language that I found here - several times going back to savour a phrase or sentence and enjoy the sound and sense of it. In one place there was one plain short sentence, followed by one that was beautifully rich and expressive, that stayed with me for a long time 'I don't know what happened. Eighteen years circled round me like some elliptical predator and herded me through a twisting labyrinth of snap decisions and arbitary career choices.' I feel like that sentence, and in fact the whole book, took me on a journey through several lives of darkness and I emerged blinking into the light of day at the other end.
Well, guess what? I suspect Neil Schiller DOES know why. Obviously this isn't as good as Carver, but it is really very good, and in a similar style. The stories here touch on themes of depression, angst, divource, music & memory and illness. But the writing itself is stylish and and stops the whole thing becoming too drab and downbeat.
My favourite is 'Fugue' about a stag-do in a drab seaside town, but I've enjoyed nearly all of the stories here. A real lucky find, and at less than a quid a bargin.
Thankfully there is absolutely no cause for worry, because this collection is stunning. What Schiller does best is understatement. There is a quiet confidence in his prose, a simplicity, a levelness of tone that covers a depth and complexity of emotional content that is quite dazzling. This is the kind of writing I love, because it deals with life in all its messiness, but it does so without ever going down the road of bleakness and despair. it does justice to life's complexity but it does so without ever falling into the trap of "needing a good edit".
Thoroughly thoroughly recommended.
There is the prisoner in his cell, there is the man crushed by grief and guilt over the death of his daughter, there is the grown-up son paying a rare visit to his disintegrating father. Schiller makes us look at those bits of our lives that shame us and embarrass others - the saddest bits, the bits that can never be put right; the bits we must hide from the world, because the world doesn't want to see them.
For the most part, the anonymous narrator reveals only gradually, or perhaps only at the end, what is really going on. And all the tales, like all our lives, are really about the past. Something has happened, or has always been happening, and this is where it has led to: "Nothing ever starts. Not really. At some point you simply realise that you're in the middle of something that has been going on forever."
Every story in Oblivious presents us with a bleeding chunk of someone's existence, and in it we see the whole life. There is a reason for the brevity of the tales (one is only six words long): they are distillations; more words would only dilute.
Oblivious presents a bleak picture of human life. If there is redemption here, it comes through meaning. All these lives, Schiller says, really matter; they are worthy of our attention. It may not be much, but it's something.
Emotional, hard hitting facts of life. This book is not a bed of roses, "La Vie En Rose?"... no way! A sincere portrayal of captured life through the kaleidoscope of the "captured"....
Profound but never profane.