Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Review: Girl With Oars & Man Dying

Read 12/31/11 - 1/1/12
3 Stars - Recommended to fans of experimental indie fiction
Pgs: 105 (eBook format)

One of the things I really love about indie lit is the occasionally strange and experimental format the stories come in. It takes a brave writer to kick conventional story writing to the curb and attempt to reinvent the way we read and perceive language.

In girl with oars & man dying, JA Tyler tells a story that isn't a story. It's a story that's more like a reflection. It's the not story of a man's reflection. It's a story that's not a story about the things that were, the things that weren't, and the things that could've been.

It's a story about a man, lying in his bed, dying. It's a story about a man dying who pulls an Other from his mouth. It's a story about an Other who sits and waits for the man to die. An Other who thumbs the pages of the bible on the bedside of the man dying.

It's a story about a girl with oars, swimming in the blue, the girl who isn't. It's not a story of the girl who isn't, who could've been, but of her not father, the man dying.

(ok, I can't pull that off nearly as well as the author does. I should stop before I embarrass myself.)

What JA Tyler manages with girl with oars... is the unique ability to tell a story without actually telling the story. He messes with time and place, losing us in the past and present, in much the same way I would imagine a dying person might find themselves lost within the past and present, existing much of the time in that not-time with their memories, their regrets, their shames, and their sins.

There is a frustrating repetitiveness, an obvious redundancy, to much of what Tyler writes. As if he's saying "hey reader, are you with me? are you paying attention? this is going to mean something later. much much later. let me say it again because i don't think you're with me yet."

But going beyond the intentional repetition, what you have in your hands (or on your smartphone, as was the case here) is a complex contemplation of what death and dying would look like from within, without, and all around the dying person. A figurative skipping of the record, invisible hiccups of time where memories or horrible shames play themselves over and over again, where the dying mind gets stuck or decides to hide, while death patiently waits, watching for that last breath to leave the body so it can snatch you away.

Or, at least that's my take on it. Read it for yourself to form your own opinion. Don't take my word on it. I could have it all it wrong (though somehow I doubt it)!

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