Publisher: Legend Press
Publication date: 15th April 2017
Following the opening scenes of a less than flawless dispersal of cremated ashes on top of a hill, Blame sees the rehabilitation of a life after laying ghosts to rest. Its stark triggers of regret, judgement and recognition generates both contempt and concern for the main character, as he revisits the misery of his childhood and fumbles his way through an indifferent period of grief.
As a rational, intelligent pharmacist, Lucas Marr is familiar with dissecting data. Yet his usual analytical tactics are of no use when he learns that the father he hasn’t seen for ten years has passed away. He trades his current salvation from addiction to binge on precious moments that cannot be revived, as retakes are no longer permitted.
His father’s sudden departure attempts to lure Lucas into temptation. As his will-power strikes the delicate balance between giving in and giving up his gradual indecision feels intense and authentic. While Lucas revisits his past through a diary written by his outraged younger self, a boy who was caught in the crossfire without little explanation, he painfully overlooks an opportunity which diminishes his self-discipline further.
Events that coincide with significant dates in our recent traumatic history are written into the story. As the rest of the world continues to turn, Lucas escaped to the other side of it before he found what he was looking for. His struggles to make sense of earlier divisive instances compared with the incriminating present day recollections made me pause to think how we deceive our impressionable selves. As the circumstances surrounding his father’s death are clarified he has the opportunity to finally process his father’s behaviour and the reasons for it.
What I found particularly perceptive was the subtle evidence of caring from a distance. For instance, his father displays the photographs of both his children sitting side by side not only in different frames, but in periods of time: Lucas is forever a boy as there would be no opportunities to capture a new moment, while his younger brother Ryan has grown into an adult. Also Lucas’s diary was found among his father’s effects and contained the gradual decline of his blissful childhood contentment, the den he made with his neighbour, and the invader who trespassed on their friendship. I was a mere bystander and witnessing just how stealthily everything fell into oblivion was emotionally brutal.
Blame opens the door to the agony of life and invites its caustic and destructive challenges in. It’s so astutely written that have no hesitation in highly recommending it.
(I received a copy of this title from the publishers and it is my pleasure to provide an unbiased review.)
(Courtesy of Amazon UK)
‘Cleverly and astutely observed’ Eben Venter
‘Shocking and wickedly funny’ Neil Hegarty
‘A raw, startlingly honest novel about family, love and redemption’ Matthew Norman
‘At a time when high-quality contemporary literary fiction is rarer than ever, Paul Read’s novels are a much-needed tonic’ Matt Thorne
It is the summer of 1989 when Lucas witnesses an event that will tear his family apart. Over a decade later, his estranged father succumbs to a suspected heart attack.
Lucas shuns grief and escapes to New York with his colleague Mariana. However, a dark secret from his past threatens to re-emerge and destroy the burgeoning relationship before it has even begun.
When his father’s girlfriend fails to reappear after reporting his death, the true cause of his demise falls under scrutiny. And as the startling truth comes to light, Lucas must confront the fact that father and son may not have been so different after all.
(Courtesy of Amazon UK. Photograph courtesy of Publisher.)
After gaining a first in Fine Art at the Kent Institute of Art and Design at Canterbury, Paul Read found employment at Foyles bookshop on Charing Cross Road before becoming a teacher. He has taught at several inner city schools as an Art and English teacher, both in England and Italy, where he currently lives with his partner and two children. He received a distinction in creative writing for his MA at City University London.
The Art Teacher was published in 2016 by Legend Press.
His second novel, Blame, will be published in April 2017.
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