Friday, April 03, 2015

Book in Review: Shapes the Sunlight Takes, by Josh Wagner

“Today I learned nothing, talked to no one, and after school I wandered to work in such loops and swirls that from a distance the people of earth probably thought I was a wind-up toy.”
page 115

     The moody boy lit-geek in me enjoyed a lot of this novel. It reminded me of sitting up against lockers in halogen-lit hallways in 8th grade, listening to a girl who wanted to grow up to be a fashion designer/poet/traveler/artist/journalist talk about how the book 'The Perks of Being A Wallflower' really 'got' her.

     In moments reading this book, I was reminded of a frightening pastiche of adolescent and pre-adolescent feelings of isolation and desperation. 'The Basketball Diaries', 'The Virgin Suicides', and 'Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors' all came to mind. The playful language, the dry dialogue, and the cold situations all mixed fairly well to really evoke a feeling of adolescent hopelessness.

     Set in multiple ways and places, the book flirts with dreams, delusions, hospitals, desires, and most of all, hope. These ideas, blended into different settings and locations manage to not come across as routine or even overtly familiar, just, comfortably new, if that makes any sense. The comfort comes from these things all being normal blending, but the newness comes in their presentation.

     I felt like the novel lost a bit of steam around two thirds of the way through, but the shrugging and shoe-gazing climax pulled me back in emphatically. Again, in the final act, I was immersed in a feeling of directionless wandering that fit the theme/mood of the novel perfectly. Things felt so barren and unfamiliar, while maintaining such a strong emotional connection.

     I liked this book, and I would recommend it to a lot of my friends and fellow authors, but only ones who I think would truly click with it. And I guess that is the biggest hurdle for a novel like this. It isnt 'The Great Gatsby', or 'The Man In The High Castle', it is a specialty focus. This novel just wont click in for a lot of people, and frankly, I dont think it aims to. I think it aims to really find a soft home in the minds of a very few select readers and feelers out there. And from the warm feeling of closure I got in the end, I think I may just be one of those feelers.

     This is a good read for some of you, and most of all, it is a good reminder of a lot of feelings for some of us. It reminds me of a lot of things I am beyond now. Or at least away from.

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