I Saw a Man / Owen Sheers
Every time I tackle a literary fiction, I’m thrust into an unfamiliar world where no one does the expected. It’s surreal, and yet it’s as real as it can get. The people behave the way you don’t expect them to. The stories more often leave me reeling, and yet, it’s exactly how it happens in the real world. This book in particular, had me questioning if I would’ve done exactly what they did had I been in their situation.
The novel started unassumingly enough. Michael walked into his neighbour’s house with the intention of picking up a screw driver that he lent to Josh. The doors were unlocked, which surprised him considering the house seemed to be empty of its inhabitants. During the course of his search for the screwdriver, the narrator tells the sequence of events that forever linked Michael’s life to the Nelsons’. With it, is the story of how his wife was killed, and the man responsible for her death. The novel is like a jigsaw puzzle. A mystery told sparingly, but with a tension you can cut through with a knife. The suspense is frustrating; infuriating, even. The novel take its time to reveal its true colours. The summary doesn’t offer much, but the brilliance of this novel was the painstakingly slow reveal of every thing that makes it so addictive. It is that tension that persists throughout the majority of the book. But just when Sheers decided the readers have had enough, he forces us to see exactly how cruel “if only” scenarios could be. A pointless exercise that only lend to more frustration to the reader.
This novel is a close examination of guilt and grief. A potent, debilitating combination for the weak. Josh and Michael share a secret that if revealed, could very well ruin the lives of all the people involved. In this case, the novel looks at who most benefits a confession. Will the truth really set anyone free? Or would it just be another form of prison sentence for the guilty party? In the end, both Josh and Michael will be left with very little choice but to own their shares of the blame. Which is oddly satisfying for a non-resolution ending.
GOODREADS SUMMARY | Bond Street Books | June 9th, 2015 Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars