The Road by Cormac McCarthy– Review

8 08 2015

Depression Trigger warning:

This is my first Cormac McCarthy novel and in all honesty it’ll probably be my last. At present I have no desire or intention of ever reading McCarthy’s work again. This isn’t a reflection of the quality of his writing, which is in fact, wonderfully creative. Staggeringly so.

McCarthy employs a very simple, but wholly immersive narrative style in this book. His characters are nameless. Cormac gives them a gender and a rough age, but that’s about it. His sentence structure is stripped down to the bare bones, in that he discards conventional use of punctuation and grammar, in favour of a flowing, short structure, cut with the occasional longer, more poetic monologue from the narrator’s point of view.

This approach is hugely effective. The short, sparse structure reflects and amplifies the bleakness of the world he has placed his poor characters into. The longer monologues are beautiful, insightful and heart-breaking at times; these moments shine a bright light onto the broken structure between, making the shadows they cast and struggles described in them all the more dark…. inescapable.

Aside from the skill in the rudimentary narrative and prose, Cormac employs some of the most immersive, descriptive settings and conveyance of the complexities of emotions his characters suffer through I’ve ever experienced.

This book is so wonderfully written, it is simply beautiful, the use of language to convey such hardship, such stark, stripped back humanity and beauty, but by God, it is bleak as fuck, and the most emotionally-draining piece of literature I’ve encountered.

The world of The Road is so very bleak, so lacking in joy or comfort or hope. Reading this book was a trial for me, I didn’t want to continue, but its beauty and humanity and raw splendour dragged me along despite myself.

If you are in any way prone to depression or periods of low moods, I would recommend avoiding this book, at least until happier times. It is a marvel, it is simply one of the most staggeringly gorgeous and horrifically desperate pieces of fiction I’ve read. I’ll never read this book again, but the gap it let in me will remain forever.

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The Switched by Ryan Bracha – Review

27 05 2015

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I wouldn’t want to be Bracha. Not for anything. I feel sorry for him in the most profound way.
It’s not the vacant expression sketched permanently on his face that elicits my sympathy for him. Nor the sagging, sweat-stained moob impression on his sad oasis-esque polo shirt.

It’s not even the resigned way he carries himself, like only the most wretched shit-stain of a man who’s accepted his slide into deep ugliness can affect.
Not even the rancid, gamey oily pungent Stench of his grimy Breath elicits my Pity. None of those are a patch on Bracha’s one true inescapable obstacle.
The sad fact is that Bracha has written his finest novel to date and will most likely never scratch at those heights again let alone improve on it.

That’s what I’m telling myself at any rate, but the truth is that Bracha will do what he always does and go on developing his skills and pushing himself further from any comfort zone he could slip into.
Ryan Bracha is that sort of cheeky wide-o who asks for a blowy straight after he’s been knocked back for a tit squeeze. He has no shame and no sense of limitations.

Unwilling to restrain himself to a single comfortable genre or writing style, Bracha has shoved all desire to settle into a formulaic groove aside and elevated his writing one more time. In The Switched, Bracha ‘switches’ effortlessly but never gratuitously between first and third person and present and past tense, as the story demands.

Many writers would struggle to maintain consistency with such changes, or overuse the mechanism, Ryan effortlessly (it’s not but it reads like it is) employs the shifting narrative and perspective to add urgency, humour and purpose to each scene.

Taking  all the creativeness of Strangers are Just Friends You Haven’t Killed Yet and follow-up Tomorrow’s Chip Paper, Bracha throws in a hefty helping of technical skill- earned by hundreds of hours writing The Dead Man Series- to temper his surging imagination and desire to put his characters through the wringer for your entertainment.

What we have in The Switched is the perfect blend of creative flair with technical skill from a writer who is at the peak of his powers…so far.

The biggest development, for me, in Ryan’s writing with The Switched is that Relationships are now front and centre and the driving force for the novel. Where in previous books, the story was the driving force for his characters, in The Switched, Bracha’s characters drive the story. The characterisation and development is exceptionally good in this novel.

 

That the sweetest, most compelling and real relationship in the book is between two men, one of whom is a woman inhabiting her partner’s former body, is a testament to the author’s new-found ability to expose the tender weakness of the true individual rather than the shell of the person.

 

Reading The Switched holds all the manky, unsettling, thrilling insidiousness of playing a game of ‘just the tip’ and leaves the reader wondering just how much more Ryan Bracha is still capable of.”

The Switched is available for pre-order at Amazon UK and US now.








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