Pen and Picture
Pub Date: Jan 25, 2016
“I don’t think you understand. There’s an epidemic of young males in this country, who don’t read or follow the news or anything to acknowledge their reality”
The second novel by Micheal Ebner (All The Talk Is Dead) is an amusing cineliterate tale of dealing with loss, cinema, and terrorism.
Our protagonist Joe is 17. He lives at home with his Sister Loren. Their Dad, who works for National marine fisheries, went missing a while ago and their Mom moved out to live with architect. But they still pretend that their mom still lives with them – hanging out laundry, getting the daily newspaper delivered, just to keep social services at bay. Joe used to be a swimmer, but three years ago his girlfriend, Alice, died and he lost interest in everything , except Cinema. Now he and his three friends: Brad, Toby and Dan get together to play ‘The Movie’ game (a version of six degrees of separation). His life pretty much revolves around going to the cinema, stalking those who talk in the cinema, this game and taking nigh-time swims in other people’s pools.
Whilst this is going on he seems unaware that his sister is suicidal and that he is being followed by the FBI.
What follows is an often very funny, sometimes touching, tale of how we deal with loss, how we all use deception to hide our true selves – indeed play roles, and how we can become so immersed in things that real life starts to pass us by. The most interesting parts of the book are probably the flashbacks to Joe as a 14 year old in the immediate aftermath of Alice’s death (the cause of which we don’t discover until the book’s end). There is a real sense of sadness in these sections that is mostly blotted out by the film humour in the ‘present’ – perhaps intentionally so, as blotting out is arguable what Joe and Loren have been doing.
Ebner clearly has a love for cinema, and as this is a love I share, it made this an easy and rapid read. His prose style is easy going and there are hints of Carl Hiaasen in the bleakness of the humour. A good holiday read.
Review copy via Pen and Picture/Netgalley