Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Welcome to the Abyss, by Steve Nahaj - book review

Rating: 3.5/5

I bought this book after hearing the author read it - a performance that mixed the reading in with music and video - and being rather charmed at the way it was done.

The novel chronicles Johan's experience traveling from Colorado to Paris to Amsterdam, searching for a reason to stop, seeking solace and self-knowledge in a series of hasty and overlapping relationships. Reading it, I missed that the "abyss" to which the title refers is never defined or explained, and one can only suppose that it just means liking booze and hasty overlapping relationships a little too much. It makes the main character hard to sympathize with at first, his voyage of self-discovery being pretty much financed by generous, sedentary family members. But then, his candor and open-eyed appreciation of life, his occasional deep insights into the whole human carnival are refreshing and keep us on with him, choosing to follow as he jumps from place to place following an undeniable whim and thirst for revelation. Written in a brash, eager style that doesn't let go of any metaphor it snatches, no matter where it's been.