The main character is a self-proclaimed misanthropic, remorseless pedophile. Yet Dear Reader is compelled by his story, so strange and vulgar, as he recounts how his life intertwined with the wicked girl of the title, Elsie, the girl he cannot forget. She’s one of those girls that brings out the desire in others to care for her and make her their own, frustrating John immensely in his attempts to analyze her. Dear Reader will also work on determining who are the puppets and who are the masters in this twisting tale of control and deceit. Olokita’s sparse writing style serves this story well, as the characters interact and relate in odd ways, each with a tenuous grasp on reality, and a skewed idea of truth. The punchline will send Dear Reader back to the beginning of the book to wrap up everything. Olokita is a unique voice whose works catapult readers through stories without investing them too deeply in the chaos. One wonders how the tone has changed in the translation from Hebrew. His novels are always interesting. I was given a digital copy of this story translated into English by the author for an honest review.
Brian Hildebrand becomes conscious a few days after a bizarre car accident involving him and his car after he stepped out of it. However, this conscious state does not equate to him awaking from a coma. Though psychic, his mother cannot reach him, but her mother’s intuition tells her that he’s in there, aware and listening. An unreliable narrator, he enlightens the reader upon his favorite caregiver, a mysterious stranger, ghosts, psychic connections, and the various new and unorthodox treatments to unlock him.
Myers creates a colorful character, haphazard in his sharing, building tension as a man locked in with his constant thoughts, seeking aid everywhere, even psychically and through spirits of the recently and not-so-recently deceased. His supporting cast comes through his tunnel vision—well-developed characters as seen through the lens (literally, as his eyes are open, doubtful in real life) of his limited vision: mom, mysterious stranger, amaaaazing caregiver, and various possible saviors. Having invested oneself in the possibility of recovery for this locked in protagonist, and slogged through the frustrated attempts and helplessness of him and his cheerleaders, the morphing of this story into metafiction disappoints. I was fortunate to receive this fantastic story turned metafiction from the publisher through NetGalley. Maybe it was all a dream after all.
Amber comes to from a coma, but realizes that she is not awake, only aware. While in her hospital bed, she hears her husband and sister discuss mysterious happenings related to her car accident. Flashbacks to a week before bring the reader up to date slowly through an unreliable narrator. Journal entries from childhood fill in blanks and spew a haze of ambiguity regarding the sisters, until the reader is delightfully confused and enlightened repeatedly, like the proverbial roller coaster ride. Feeney plops out a big, ole’ shocker at the end—twice!—that makes the reader go, “Hmm…” It’s a fun read and worth the time to try to figure out what’s going on between the sisters, and if anyone is trustworthy, or if all of them are constantly scheming. The journal is brilliantly done, without revealing anything. Much murder and mayhem ensue, beyond the family, a deliciously wicked family. I was fortunate to receive an advanced copy from the publisher of this fantastic novel.