Sea of Hooks

19 Feb
Sea of Hooks

Sea of Hooks

Admittedly, I spend some time grousing about the literary journalistic community’s tunnel vision and the prevailing narrow focus of book coverage . Just as I was going to offer the reasonable explanation that “Well there are so many books maybe its better to concentrate in a few?” (which in reality serves neither the authors nor readers) I chance upon a tidbit in the New York Times which the headline offers that Japanese novelist Hari Murakami has a new novel being published in the US in August. August, people! Am I Rip Van winkle and the months have flown by?

The point here being that there are more than enough books already published that have not gotten their (or a) fair( reasonable people can agree what ‘fair’ would be)share of attention and discussion. A case in point is poet Lindsay Hill’s first novel Sea of Hooks (Mc Pherson and Company) published last November. I took up my copy on this last weekend and (avoiding an obvious pun) I was charmed by the book’s epigraph:

A boy grew up
beside a sea of hooks
and he learned to swim
in that sea
and to notice the hooks
as they rose
and fell
and twisted in the tides

And he learned
to feel his way
at first very slowly
in the sea of hooks

And he noticed
that all around him
people had hooks in their skin
and were being pulled
in many directions

And many of the hooks
were small and hard to see
barely silver in the glinting
light down deep
barely visible
and numerous

And some
from the place of his birth
would not put a toe
in the sea

And some lived
their entire lives
full of hooks
in the underneath

For what it’s worth Sea of Hooks was one Publisher’s Weekly’s top five novels:”Best Books of 2013″ and in New York Magazine‘s list of top 10 novels of 2013. And Publisher’s Weekly‘s “Most Underrated book of 2013

And to their credit the Seattle Times:

The book jacket tells us that Hill spent nearly 20 years writing “Sea of Hooks,” and it shows; every paragraph seems to glimmer with a phrase that reminds us why we read literature. Christopher, pressing his tongue to a hailstone, finds that it tastes like “icy smoke”; as a small child, he collected forgotten bits of paper and debris, calling them “messengers” and keeping them in his pockets “until he understood what they were saying.” And then, one day, he didn’t pick the messengers up anymore.

and the LA Review of Books took Hill’s book seriously:

Sea of Hooks is a coming-of-age story about a turbulent, secretive boy marred by trauma and loss. Christopher Westall, a boy in mid-century San Francisco, is the son of a severely depressed and anxious mother and a disinterested father. He appears to fall somewhere on the autism spectrum, but has a talent of imagination and a mind “well beyond his years,” tutors say; he struggles to read and feels his brain is broken. (“He would slide from the well-marked roadway of the page to the fields on either side where a kind of fragmented movie was in progress all the time.”) His secret, interior life brims with vivid ideas that ricochet off whatever he encounters, but his public life is solitary.

You can read excerpts here

So if you can tear yourself away from the the news of books coming out in August and so forth grab this book that has already been published and is waiting for you…

CURRENTLY READING Boss by Mike Royko (Dutton)

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