Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Book by Ken Sparling

Three brothers sat on the sidewalk. They were wearing hats and mitts. They had finished their jobs. It was early afternoon. The sun was weak and watery. One brother rubbed another brother’s face in slush. The third brother raised his hand. Listen, he said. The two brothers stopped fighting. Listened. The brother who had raised his hand was wearing a hat. The hat had earflaps. The brother pulled the earflaps away from his ears. He tipped his ear. Moved it like an antennae. You hear that, he said. The older brothers heard nothing. The brother with the earflaps had just come from watching the sun set through the back window of a green car. A beautiful girl, who was an actor, had been in the car with him. They had argued. They had argued about the beautiful actor’s daughter. The daughter was at home with the babysitter. The daughter was a fire-breathing dragon. Terribly beautiful, like her mother. But terribly dangerous. But terribly friendly, too. Smiling all the time. You couldn’t help but love her. The actor lived with her many sisters in a house shaped like a triangle. Some heavy white clouds, shaped like cotton balls, glued themselves to the sky above the brothers. The clouds, which looked like cotton balls pushed together on construction paper by kindergartners, cut the sun away from over the three boys. They looked up to watch. The clouds passed over. The clouds continued on. They shifted. Dissipated. Soon, they were completely gone. But, by this time, they were far, far away from the boys, over a town many miles away.
How to describe the novel Book (Toronto ON: Pedlar Press, 2010) by Toronto author Ken Sparling, author of the previous novels novels Dad Says He Saw You at the Mall (New York NY: Knopf, 1996), Hush Up and Listen Stinky Poo Butt (1996; self-made by author upon request), [A novel by Ken Sparling] (Pedlar Press, 2003) and For Those Whom God Has Blessed with Fingers (Pedlar Press, 2005). Made up of what could otherwise be seen as a random scattering of notes, Book moves so descriptively thick and sure-paced that the story of the novel can only be contained in the reader’s actual head. There is no story in Book, simply due to the fact that there is so much of it, accumulated on every page in an entirely human way, making other novels appear shatteringly thin and narratively false. How does Sparling manage such a range of activity (even slipping in a couple of characters from his self-published (and soon to be reissued) novel, Hush Up and Listen Stinky Poo Butt, along the way)? How does Sparling seem to understand the nuance of human activity so precisely that he can articulate all the unimportant movements and imaginings of various characters throughout their normal activities?
I started reading your book a while back. I did not continue. Lately I’ve been completely overwhelmed. The last thing that gave me any sense of buoyancy was the moon. Before that, it was a girl in a breeze. Before that it was some strains of music from some bands in subway stops I visited. Once, long ago, it was something I saw by a river.

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