Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

"The Visible World" by Mark Slouka (Portobello Books, 2007)

Page 1 didn't convince me that it was "Exquisitely written", though by chapter 3 I was hooked. The narrator's mother recounts stories her father had told her. The people who lived in the world beneath the pond might look up and see

the trees, the separating clouds, the fishermen pulling at their earlobes or folding up their wooden stools ... they could gaze at a dog's pink tongue lapping at the edge of the sky for hours, and on those rare afternoons when the children leaped from the clouds, spearing down towards the silted roofs of their world clothed in white sheaths of bubbles, they would gather in great swaying crowds, their clothes fluttering about them, and weep.

The first section shows the narrator growing up in the States, then on his parents' deaths the narrator goes to Czechoslovakia to follow clues about their past - a love story, a Resistance story. The final, third section (a narrative rather than chained anecdotes) recounts a significant event that shaped his parents' lives during the WWII occupation, when some men hidden for days under a church looked up to see the visible world.

Every hour you lived, from the moment you woke in the dark, you were reshaping yourself to survive.
It made for an interesting problem: the better you were at the role, the more talent you had for it, the more likely that you'd lose yourself along the way.
Hate helped

(p.199). The mother tells her then lover the same story, continuing it - an elf goes down and saddens the other elves under the pond by telling them about the upper world, though when he wakes he sees a light from above that transforms his life.

Worth a read, though the number of dreams put me off a little.

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