Friday, January 23, 2009

Wait by Frank Turner Hollon

This is not a review. It's a reaction. There are spoilers. If you want a review, here it is: Wait is a worthwhile novel from an interesting mind, that will make you think about your soul, and the state of it, and the reasons why your soul may be in that state. It will make you look around your life with a new, healthy suspicion, and try to imagine your spouse with a gun in his hand, standing there blankly, ready to pull the trigger. So there's your review. Go get the book, and read it, and come back here and talk to me about it.

Frank Turner Hollon has written the life story of Early Winwood, a guy you might pass on the street without noticing, a character you might not think was worthy of having a novel written about him. A regular guy. The difference between Early and most regular guys is that right in the middle of the book, after living through a few dozen unremarkable years, Early does something very remarkable: he kills a man. Then, later, he kills another one.

This book is telling me one of two things. No, there are no other interpretations:

1. The narrator is unreliable. The book is psychological study that takes us deep under cover in the mind of a murderer, to show us how he, twisted and inhuman as he is, sees himself as normal, fitting snugly into the fabric of society. I have two bits of evidence for this interpretation. First, the ambiguity of his relationship to Kate Shepherd, and the fact that this drug user turned model citizen at one point tells the court he is a kidnapper and a stalker. The second is the way the murders really fail to haunt the guy, at least fail to haunt him to the extent that a murder would haunt me. Or maybe a murder wouldn't really haunt me that much, which brings me to possibility #2.

2. Early is a murderer, and Early is an average guy. Both. One does not preclude the other. Murder is closer to you than you think it is, reader, and only a thin hair of opportunity and impetus stands between you and the act itself. Looking back on the book, this explanation seems more elegant. It is as if the whole plot of this man's life was constructed to be a doughy, bland container for that one act of violence, so that the blandness leaks into the violence, and makes it ordinary, all part of the whole.

I don't know which one is the correct reading but I hope it's two. It's not that I agree with him, in fact I don't like the idea that we're all base, we're all murderers, we're all that low, as vile as the least of us is vile. I don't agree. But I think that makes the more perfect novel, and I've never read a book constructed like this, with so much fire-retardant wadding packed around a fuel cell on fire.

The book fails me in a couple of ways -- the second "murder" doesn't seem to fit either of my explanations, and it blurs the lines of what's a reasonable excuse to commit the crime. I was disappointed also a little bit in the lesser characters, in Early's fake son and fake daughter. I never knew what lens I was seeing them through, and Early's take on it seemed more suspect when he was describing these relationships than it did when he was talking about Kate.

Ultimately, a very interesting book and a book that worked my brain. I will have to try another by this author.


  1. Yes 2. Of course 2.
    But filtered through Hollon's overriding belief in grace---a belief you do not share, and I think you missed a layer of what he's doing. Yes, the animal, but also the divine. That's what makes all his books speak so loudly to me -- he is quite possibly my favorite alive writer.

  2. Sarla Devi is a love problem specialist who has years of experience in the field of finding a befitting solutions to any problems.

    Vashikaran Mantra