All That’s Left to Tell by Daniel Lowe
Book Review: 5 out of 5 star rating
Marc has been kidnapped in Pakistan. Two men take turns guarding him. Whenever the interrogator comes into the room, Marc is blindfolded. The interrogator is a woman who says he can call her Josephine. At first, Josephine tries to learn how they can collect the ten million dollar ransom. But then she starts to question him about his severed relationship with his daughter, Claire, who recently was murdered. She asks Marc to tell her stories about Claire, which Marc reluctantly and painfully does. Then Josephine starts to tell Marc imaginary stories about Claire’s future if she hadn’t died. In Josephine’s story, Claire is on her way to visit her dying father, who she hasn’t seen in 15 years. She is now married with a child but is traveling alone. She picks up a hitchhiker, Genevieve, who has her own stories to tell. Genevieve tells Claire stories of the life that Marc may have led during her absence.
Marc’s reality is distorted by the blindfold and he finds comfort in hearing the stories of the life Claire went on to live and can almost believe them to be true. Likewise, the reader’s reality is distorted and sometimes it can be difficult to keep in mind which story is “true”. But then again, it really doesn’t matter which story is true. I became completely engulfed in each story. The author moves smoothly from Marc in prison to the imagined Claire on her way to see her dying father to the imagined Marc who has remarried. That may sound a bit complicated but the author writes in such a way that it’s all very clear. I felt like I was dreaming as I read these stories. What power the written word has, even to bring the dead alive again. It was almost as though the power of these stories could re-arrange reality itself.
I couldn’t be more impressed by this author. It’s hard to believe that this is his debut novel though I do see that he’s a writing teacher and that his stories and poems have been published in literary magazines. His is a name to watch out for. This is a literary work of art, unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Most highly recommended.
This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.