I bought this book because the author’s mother is a friend of mine and so I had committed to reading it no matter what… And I was afraid I would not like the book! I found myself completely drawn into the book. The writing is very engaging, especially when the narrator is showing the main character’s thought process, his hesitations, repetitions, and what he tells himself when he is willing his body to do something that seems quite impossible in the real world. But the book is not quite set in the real world, but in the strange, at once suspended and stretched time, in between the moment at which the airplane blows up and the time at which the main character dies.
And this time is enough to tell the story of his life, his desires and yearnings, as well as his regrets. And he needs this time to resign himself, or better yet, to fully embrace, going into the void that follows the end of sentient life.
Who is this main character? He is a young man named Daniel Solomon, 23 years old, from Saskatchewan. At the beginning of the book, he is departing from Bangkok because his visa was not renewed and he is being expelled. The book tells the story of how he got there, and because this entails telling his whole life story, this could be considered a bildungsroman. We follow Daniel’s development, the origin of his interests and the building of his character through a number of experiences, most of which seem to consist of conflict-ridden relations with other boys and troubled relationships with young women.
The novel starts this way, at Chapter 0, a sort of prologue:
Hello, my love.
I suppose I really ought to explain.
So the narrator, first person, the person of Daniel Solomon, is telling this story to “his love”. And who might that be? This love is never given a name and as we go on with the story, we keep wondering to whom he is telling this tale, sometimes run-of-the-mill details of a teenager’s life, sometimes preposterous, where all the people he encounters do not seem to be this “love” that he keeps addressing throughout the book. Of course, we eventually do find out but it takes a while, and I won’t tell you who it is because that would spoil the fun.
Neither will I tell you about the ending… I thought for a long time that he would wake up from a dream… but no…
One thing I really liked about the presentation of the book are the little glyphs that appear at the beginning of each section that indicate whether the story is moving forward, flashing back, doing a rewind/retell, and so on. It helps the reading figuring out where the narrator is going with great economy of words.
Young, Jared. Into The Current. Goose Lane Editions, Fredericton, NB, 2016.