Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A promised book review: "the body of this"

Andrew McNabb, the author, visited the Catholic Writer's guild a few months ago and was completely enchanting! He is compassionate, deep thinking, and seems detail oriented. We all had plenty of questions for him about how he writes, his routine, I know that we thoroughly enjoyed his visit. Anyway, after our chat, he sent a few of us his latest project, "the body of this." Assuring him that I would review it and post a review on my blog, I began to read it the day it arrived at my doorstep. So here it is.

Andrew's book is a medium/small book with only 164 pages, it seems bigger with 28 chapters, though. I read about a chapter a day, or more depending on it's length. Each chapter is totally apart from the other with no connection, except that they take place in Maine's West End for the most part. One chapter in particular, "Compartments" could actually take place any place really as he dissects the scene and directs the reader's focus on a structure not the place. I liked that, the suspense he builds was very real.

With a variety of topics, a few chapters were more daring than others, the language in a couple is rough with a few 'f' words, of which I am not comfortable. There were stories that I found strikingly raw and pleasantly refreshing, then there were others that I found to be rather disturbing as in "Precious Blood" and "Blemished." The last chapter, "A time to die" left me with a feeling I didn't like at the completion of the book. Some chapters I just didn't get as in 'Rapture," then others were fun, 'The King of the Tables' was sweet and sad at the same time "It's what it feels like' was a twisted story that had a ending that was a surprise.

All in all, I found Andrew's book interesting, but strange at the same time. Catholic? No. It reminded me of a study of abstract music designed to test the student's reading skills. I was tested and many times felt outside my comfort zone, since most of the stuff I am reading these days is Catholic catechesis and political magazines, it was a different change of pace for me.

Thank you, Andrew.....keep writing!

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