‘The deep mewing of a gull draws Felix from his dreams.’
The opening line to Thomas Brown’s second novel sets the tone perfectly for what is to come. You could say that Felix never fully wakes from his dreams, for he sees winged creatures wherever he looks, he sees the dark waters of the sea, he sees the feathered arms of his friends, he sees the haunting embers of his dreams, in the cold and soulless monotony of his life.
As the story progresses we see how Felix didn’t always have trouble with his dreams, not since he was young and his father sent him to a doctor to cure them, but his nightmares have returned, and they begin to invade his personal life. They stem from the fact his life seems to have no direction; something is holding him back, something that he didn’t face when he was younger. Loss is heavy on his mind, a loss that manifests itself in the very town where he lives, for he is surrounded by the sea, and the sea is brought to him on the salty air, and by the gulls that seem to be everywhere, and there seems to be no way out.
But all is not lost; he finds solace in his friend Michael, who is both his friend and work colleague. It is Michael who he turns to when he needs to talk, and Michael helps him to see that his dreams are running wild because he blames himself for Harriet’s drowning, a girl that Felix knew when he was just 13, but lost her to the dark waters of a flood. It isn’t until he realises this that he finds the route, or at least a part of the route, to his unhappiness. It however doesn’t dissolve the monotony of his job, of drunken nights out, or the meaninglessness of his life. For that he has to search further, he has to fall deeper within himself, to sink beneath the waves of his dreams, for he must first find the bottom, before he can hope to resurface from the silt of his life.
The book works on many different levels, and I was surprised how Brown managed to keep the description fresh, without ever falling into the trap of monotony, which could have easily happened in a story like this that relies on a certain amount of repetition for effect. Also the characterisation in the story was pitch perfect, Michael’s was especially rich, but subtle in its crafting. And just a note on some other reviews I have read, saying that the description was too much, or that the editing could have been sharper, well I couldn’t disagree more. I didn’t feel there were any unnecessary passages, and the prose was so varied and lyrical, I was happy that an editor hadn’t sabotaged it by making it needlessly more succinct.
I hope I have whetted your appetite for Featherbones, for I feel everybody can gain something from reading it. It’s one of those novels that can give the reader what they’re willing, or able to take from it. Some may not see the depth or the ingenuity of Brown’s allegorical prose; some may float upon the surface of its richness, but never truly delve into its waters, perhaps through fear of drowning. But I personally feel this book is rich, lyrical, and rhythmic like the sea itself, and one of the best books I’ve read in a long time
***** Five Stars
Featherbones (英語) ペーパーバック – 2016/2/1
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"Featherbones is an ethereal love song to a city by the sea. Thomas Brown's beautiful novel depicts a liminal world of statues, drownings and winged creatures. It's also a real page turner. I love this book." - Rebecca Smith, author of The Bluebird Cafe "I loved the use of language, I loved the story and above all I loved the constant sensation that I was walking on the top of the dividing wall between reality and dream and imagination and past and present and future. I want to live on that wall for the rest of my life." - Bookrazy blog "What to call this experience? Magical realism doesn't quite fit right. Magical-psychological-philosophical-realism. Maybe. This is a book that will be unlike any other that you have read. If you enjoy reading books that make you think, and make you wonder at the author's ability to turn every day ordinary into something else, something a bit more extraordinary, then I recommend this book to you." - Ionia Martin, Readful things blog
Thomas Brown is a postgraduate researcher at the University of Southampton, where he is investigating the relationship between horror and the sublime in literature. He has been Co-Editor of Dark River Press, and has written for a number of magazines, websites and independent publishers. In 2010 he won the University of Southampton's Flash Fiction Competition. In 2014 he won the annual Almond Press Short Story Competition. He is also a proud member of the dark fiction writing group: Pen of the Damned. His first book, LYNNWOOD, was a finalist in the 2013/14 People's Book Prize. When not writing, he can usually be found waiting on his cats, or enjoying a bottle (or two) of red wine with friends.
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Outstanding writing - compassionate, honest and full of humanity.2016年4月12日に英国でレビュー済み
Featherbones is an affecting read. The descriptive writing is beautiful, haunting and feels powerfully honest. It depicts a young man's emotional struggle through life and has so many important elements - themes of friendship, love, empathy, tolerance, grief, identity, sexuality, discovery, acceptance... These are all presented to us in a most visual style. Thomas Brown certainly knows how to use words. His descriptive prowess is extraordinary, blending the mundane with the surreal, leaving the reader curious and captivated. This story touched so many emotions in me. It is a visceral work of fiction which left me thinking.
Fascinating story. Beautiful descriptions and very believable main character, following his struggle with delusion and guilt. Really enjoyed 'Lynnwood' by the author too.