Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Review of Fondly, of which i am quite fond.

my friend colin winnette wrote a book. to be clear, he has written quite a few books, but i would like to say a few words about his newest one in particular.

(you can read about him and his other books here.)

for the record, i have always looked up to colin as a human and a writer in countless ways and i am happy to report that fondly has renewed my already stoic confidence in colin as a creative visionary for our generation. he is a never-ending inspiration and reminder of the strides i hope to someday make in my own life, and i thank him for that.

(please note, in the following "reviews" i am simply trying to capture the feeling i got reading this story/novella duo. i really don't want to spoil anything for you. i also didn't really feel like putting you through the rigamarole of literary name dropping, though i could say if you are interested in the gnarly likes of harry crews, the epic family tragedies of garcia marquez, or if you would be into post-modern reincarnations of stories told by carver or paley and that sort of ilk, read a young winnette while you can. he knows a story when he writes one, and i have a feeling there's plenty more where these came from.)

in one story, the two sisters

read this before you go to bed at night and prepare for the strangest dreams. you don't need a terribly long attention span, just the ability suspend belief for a moment in order to enter this magical kaleidoscope. these stories are overflowing with a menagerie of characters, moments, and snippets of ideas perhaps not fully formed but existing on the page for our entertainment nevertheless.

prepare to be all-consumed by a timeless, nonsensical world, complete with immortal, immoral characters, most of which are both faceless and nameless. 

welcome to a collection of stories completely intertwined yet charmingly and in no apparent manner relevant to one another. 

you may find yourself unable to pinpoint exactly why you care about any of the characters but still do, regardless, which is beautiful. 

it’s everything you’ve ever wanted in a disjointedly fused story collection: kidnapping, cannibalism, incest, strange men in closets, anthropomorphizing, murder, runaway nuns, decapitation, and unexpected metamorphoses. a mise en scène with no boundaries. 

here lies a dozen stocking-stuffers for the junky of modern magical realism, the lover of unsolvable post-modern mysteries, or that special someone who always dreamed of being consumed by a fish or tree.


this might be the saddest story ever told. Winnette’s modern narrative describes in painfully relatable language a fatalistic fall through the branches of a dysfunctional family tree. it subtly paves the way to appreciating the ever-present baggage of everyone you’ve ever met.

at first read, this novella may appear appallingly unpredictable. it isn’t until the end of the book you may realize you have read the entire work through binoculars, only paying attention to the finest, most inconsequential details. this book is much larger than i could initially comprehend, or give it credit for. 

the author ensures somehow each lethal plot-twist continues to allow the story to pick itself back up and continue where it left off, to trudge onward in the same unclear direction, usually dragging a broken limb or two. the book itself is impossible to set aside: the story takes the form of a injured stranger, doomed but presently intact, a morbid curiosity suspended on the reader’s sudden sense of responsibility to see it through to the end, regardless of the risk.

all this confusing language aside, what i mean to say is please read this book. 

because books like this are exactly why we read books in the first place: we want to experience something tangibly familiar yet ever so slightly out of reach; to feel a nostalgia or understanding so hauntingly similar to our own ideas about the human condition that we feel a little less alone, a little less terrified to endure the slow march of mortality. 

it is in books like this we are made to fear a little less the inevitable grind of time. 

we are allowed a small window of opportunity to imagine the impossible, to understand the incomprehensible.

books like this change us, they shift the scales of our perspectives forever.