Monday, July 7, 2014

Lavinia Reviews: Through the Windshield

Through the Windshield by Mike DeCapite
Pages: 486
Publisher: Red Giant Books
Released: June 2014

Guest Reviewed by Lavinia Ludlow

Through the Windshield is a commentary on resigning to a life of routines, sloughing through the seasons eating, drinking, smoking, engaging in fleeting dialogue with friends and acquaintances, and searching for absolution from loneliness and isolation in cold comforts like fleeting companionship and a day at the race track.

Told through the eyes of Danny, an Ohio cab driver, DeCapite builds and maintains a dismal tone throughout the book with stream of consciousness prose, and often draws on things such as weather patterns and inanimate objects to frame his protagonist’s morose and hopeless state of mind with:

“After a six-month diet of blues and greys I was back to white. I was an empty plate.”

“In the center of the room the heavy-bag hung still, in a kind of quiet conviction. There was a silence about the room that seemed never to have broken.”

Danny’s approach to life is classically evasive. He exhibits thinking and behavior widespread in contemporary society such as numbing himself with mundane errands rather than confront his lackluster life head-on. His dark and honest passages often reveal how a lack of ambition and fear of failure can lead to one of the most toxic states of mind in the human condition, which only further stunts him from rising to any potential and consequently, sets off a cycle of stagnancy.

“There’s that brief moment of guilt when you realize you’re alive and don’t know how to live, and you look at the sky and sun and feel like you should be doing something spontaneous or fulfilling . . . until you find one of the convenient excuses that’re always waiting for you to do nothing but go shopping or do the laundry or whatever.”

Occasionally, Danny breaks from his everyday mundane to make beautiful and often evocative observations of his world. They are; however, always through a layer of glass: his cab windshield or his apartment window. This segregation from his surroundings, and ultimately reality, gives the impression that he’s observing and living life through the distant view of a telescope.

The 486-page text was tough to conquer as much of the content is bogged with drab descriptions, list-like narratives, and inane dialogue between characters in a sort of “I walked here, I saw this, I thought about that, Ed said this, I ate that, made more coffee,” which left little to be interpreted by the reader. The narrative also sporadically switches from first-person narration to informal journal entries written in lowercase, and dialogues intermittently contain uppercase lettering, apparently depicting shouting, all of which breaks the somber and poignant tone DeCapite worked so hard to create.

Through the Windshield is one man’s depiction of how debilitating and spine-crippling loneliness can be, and how withdrawing into an unfeeling and mechanical state of mind stunts any possibility of personal, professional, and emotional growth.

Lavinia Ludlow is a musician, writer, and occasional contortionist. Her debut novel alt.punk can be purchased through major online retailers as well as Casperian Books’ website. Her sophomore novel Single Stroke Seven was signed to Casperian Books and will release in the distant future. In her free time, she is a reviewer at Small Press ReviewsThe Nervous BreakdownAmerican Book Review, and now The Next Best Book Blog

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