I have never quite read anything like SILENCE ONCE BEGUN. Itâ€™s disturbing, lyrical, original, provocative, and experimental in the best of ways. Yet it stands on the shoulders of giants that came before it: Sartre comes to mind, as does Camus.
The premise is instantly (pardon the pun) arresting. A thread salesman named Oda Sotatsu signs a confession for a crime that has baffled the Japanese authorities â€“ eight older individuals disappear without a trace in what becomes known as the Narito Disappearances. Yet once jailed, he utters barely a wordâ€¦.even though we, the readers, know he is not guilty from the first pages.
Like a fairy tale, way (way) back in the day when you could still be enchanted, and yet they were happy makes you feel giddy and haunted at the same time. I found myself blinking a lot while reading, as if I couldnâ€™t quite believe what my mind was seeing. Slowly, I realized: I believe.
Tom McCarthyâ€™s latest novel, C, is a strange book that, without the draw of a gripping plot or the pathos of interesting, well-rounded characters, somehow manages to intrigue all the same. Perhaps the appeal lies in McCarthyâ€™s haunting prose. Or, perhaps itâ€™s the unshakeable feeling that underneath it all â€“ underneath the layered ideas â€“ thereâ€™s a message of sorts, a message as profound as it is ephemeral: just as you think youâ€™ve figured it all out, it escapes you. Whatever the reason, C, while far from perfect, is a bizarrely captivating book.
An unremarkable boy named Billy sets out to find the spaceship that landed near the boarding house where he lives with his family in rural Philadelphia. He’s invited on this adventure by Eileen who also lives in the boarding house and is beginning to show signs of womanhood. Young Billy is driven to distraction by her smell, her silhouette, her touch. This part of the novel reads like an epic poem.
Twelve-year-old Tecumseh Sparrow Spivetâ€”T.S. for shortâ€”is as quirky as his name suggests. Extraordinarily gifted, his one way of making sense of the world around him, is to map it all out. So it is that Reif Larsenâ€™s debut,THE SELECTED WORKS OF T.S. SPIVET, has many of these maps and diagrams on the marginsâ€”a glimpse into the workings of a gifted mind. Worth mentioning are maps describing the locations of McDonalds in a Midwestern town, the many physical forces acting on a rodeo cowboy and the long list of random names picked by an IBM 1401 for the soda, Tab.
Foreign exchange students from an unnamed oppressive socialist regime have arrived in an unnamed midsized Midwestern city to create chaos in Americaâ€™s virtuous heartland. Armed with years of political indoctrination and martial arts tactics, their mission â€“ Operation Havoc â€“ consists of progressing to the National Science Fair in Washington D.C. where they will commit a massive act of biological terrorism.