Where are the fanfares? This is a wonderful book by Eric Arvin yet the release has felt quiet to me. Maybe it’s GRL coinciding with the release, maybe it’s felt we should tip toe because of Eric’s illness and current condition…Well I want everyone to know that this is a beautiful, thought provoking novel worth shouting from the roof about…
Author: Eric Arvin
Publisher: Wilde City
Cover Artist: John Coulthart
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
My name’s Charlie. I’m many things, though none of them having to do with any real talent. I’m a runaway, a hustler when I need to be, a ghost when I have to scare hoodlums away from my home, and a loner who maybe reads too much. But most of all, I’m the keeper of the carnival. That’s how I see myself. I look after the place ’cause even dying things need to be cared for. Maybe it’s illegal. Maybe that rusty metal fence around the carnival is supposed to keep me out too. Or maybe me and this place were meant to find each other. Truth is, I never felt at home anywhere but here, not even in all the foster families and orphanages I was placed in as a young shit. They don’t look for me no more, those places. I suspect I ran away so much they finally just said, “Fuck! Let him go.” I am a hangnail on society’s manicured middle finger. I’m older. One year past the age anyone gives a shit.
And this is my adventure…
It is so difficult to know where to start a review of this book, so I’m going to start with the cover and give praise to the cover designer and illustrator John Coulthart. It is perfect and when you read the story you will understand why. Eric Arvin has never been an author who fears the big themes and they don’t get a lot bigger than life and death. In the wonderful ‘Woke up in a Strange Place’ we accompany a spirit on his way through the afterlife to understanding that will give him his heaven, and maybe a new life. In ‘Wave Goodbye to Charlie’ we see the afterlife from this side.
Charlie Boyd is a wonderful character and devoid of the bitterness or cynicism you would expect from one so young and in his circumstances.
I am a hangnail on society’s manicured middle finger. I’m older. One year past the age anyone gives a shit.
He is forced to sell his body and turn tricks to feed himself, but he is so full of wonder, love and curiosity that he is loved without realising it and gathers a new strange family around him. There is Jimmy and Leroy a couple who are replacement parents, Nessa the ‘witch’ in the woods a replacement grandmother maybe or mentor, and Trent, a gentle soul and similarly homeless boy, his first love. Their world has darkness in the form of ‘Bull’ and ‘The Shadowman’ epitomes of evil. There are also less defined residents of the woods and Carnival where this odd assortment of characters live, entities which are neither living or passed on to the afterlife, whether they are good, bad or neither is unclear in the first part of the book.
Charlie’s story is divided into two parts; part 1 is his life and introduction of the players in his life and their importance. Part 1 ends and part 2 begins with such sadness, but the events are necessary for this story and in order for Charlie to find his path to the afterlife or ‘Evermore’, as Eric Arvin calls it here. The narrator is Charlie until right near the end when he can’t be then we move to third person. He narrates in his patois, a simple language of country people this provides the whole story with a rural freshness and sense of being close to nature and the veil between the worlds.
There is violence in this story including some visceral descriptions that are hard to read, but they are necessary to impress on the reader the full force of the evil, which has infected the Carnival and surroundings that are Charlie’s home. In some ways this is a simpler read than ‘Woke up in a Strange Place’ in that the concepts are simplified by having Charlie, as the narrator. He is an honest young man who views life, the universe and beyond with such awe, simplicity and love that it is easy to become fully immersed in the world and philosophy Eric Arvin displays for us.
There are elements of magic realism that reminded me of my favourite novel 100 Years of Solitude in which one of the main characters is preceded everywhere by yellow butterflies, here Charlie in part 2 is followed everywhere by spiders. There are a lot of incidents in, and elements to, this story that I can’t include in this review, as I feel it will detract from a reader’s enjoyment to know them in advance. Beware though, this is a story that will have you filled with ideas and chewing over details wanting to discuss them with another reader, so it is in your own interest to get your friends to read this little gem.
I want to include a couple of passages in this review, as I think Eric can explain the philosophy behind this wonderful story far better than I;
It was a wonderful morning, the warmth of the sun and the warmth of friendship combined. I think I realized then that there is a line of beauty to every twisted thing, a perfection to everything that is broken. A thing can only flow when it is in motion, after all, and to be in motion, a thing has to break its perfect stillness. Only broken things are perfect things.
and from a little further on;
“Everything comes from somethin’,” she replied with a shrug. “Everything got some form of energy wrapped up inside it, and energy don’t die. It finds a way to exist, no matter.
“So you and me, we’re gonna live forever?”
“Yessir,” she said. “We are like gods, you and me. We are like vessels holdin’ godstuff.”
He smiled. “I like that, Miss Nessa. That’s some damn fine theology”
This novel has laughs, sadness, tears, horror, family and love and it was hard to ‘Wave Goodbye to Charlie’. An absolute 5* read.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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