I am excited to be working with TLC Book Tours today to review the adult abstract contemporary book, Little is Left to Tell. I rarely have opportunities to branch out from young adult books, but I was happy to have this opportunity to review this title and share it with our readers!
Thank you, TLC Book Tours for working with me on this stop today!
Little is Left to Tell by Steven Hendricks
Published by Campanile Books on April 25th 2016
Genres: adult, contemporary
Source: Book Tour
Buy on Amazon
Little Is Left to Tell is the haunting novel by master fabulist Steven Hendricks. Enter a nocturnal world where the unreal is seen on a liminal horizon of fading memory, illuminated by partial understanding and lyrical fictions. Virginia the Wolf writes her last novel to lure her daughter home. A rabbit named Hart Crane must eat words to speak, while passing zeppelins drop bombs. Mr. Fin tries to read the past in marginalia and to rebuild his son from boat parts. A novel that bridges between dreamscape and reality, Little Is Left to Tell is entrancing and enthralling.
"In Little is Left to Tell one scene is quietly illuminated and then that illumination glides to the next, equally quiet and wondrous. Like a dream that inhabits an entire life, even a life of reading, this is a deeply rich and surprising novel." -- Amina Cain, author of Creature
"A tale about the ravages of old age, the weight of the past and bunny rabbits. Debut novelist Hendricks tries to apply the whimsical mood of fairy tales to the mildly experimental fiction at play here, and he largely succeeds despite the grim nature of his story. ...A vivid story that uses the language and metaphors of myth to reflect on the unkind nature of age and perception." -- Kirkus Reviews
Little is Left to Tell comes from the perspective of Fin, an elderly man who finds his health and his mind failing. We catch glimpses of his spiral downward in his twisted narrative of the bedtime stories he told his son, David, when he was but a young boy. The flashbacks gives the audience the knowledge to see that the stories started out with the best intentions, stories that were filled with happy endings and good fortune. However, the new, updated versions are filled with terror and regret, reflecting on the mistakes and the heartache from Fin’s life. The real life story of David is never resolved, but the clues and the small tidbits of personal history point the reader to a very unhappy conclusion.
One of my favorite literary components is an unreliable narrator. When I come across one in fiction, I instantly become invested in the story. So many times in life, we find ourselves delving into the real meaning behind other’s words and actions, and deciphering a book written from a point of view that isn’t always truthful or forthcoming comes across as realistic and engaging. I found that this was one of the biggest pulls of the novel for me; to try to understand the underlying meaning and message under the words and actions on the page.
The part I enjoyed the most was the “fairy tale” inside the story, taking in the real events of Fin’s life and digesting the information, then adding it into the fold of the stories. The cute little tales of bunnies and bears and flying ships becomes woeful, gruesome stories of death, betrayal, regret, sadness, and cruelty. It reflects how watching the world transition from a child into an adult warps and perverts what we once held dear and sweet.
There are elements of other stories that weave threads into this book, such as Hemingway’s stories and the mythology of Troy, which will delight any literary lover. There were parts that broke my heart, such as the references to Dulcinea in Fin’s mind, which made the story so much richer, adding layers to the love that Fin had lost but still fought against, or the siege of Troy, where a gift was given, only to destroy something from the inside out. This is a book you’re going to have to read through a few times to appreciate the references and imagery peppered in through the plot.
As for David, I have my own suspicions what happened to him, and even though it is never directly spelled out for the reader, there were two instances that led me to the fate of Fin’s son, one that happened, almost in passing about a third of the way through the book, and the other almost at the end. If my conclusion is correct, then I understand the pain and the anguish of Fin, and why he seems to rage and despair towards the end of his life, looking for something that will fill the missing pieces of him, like the puzzles brought to him by his concerned neighbors.
This isn’t a feel-good tale of redemption, but an exhausted retrospect of how the world eats away at you until there is nothing left to give, to tell the world.
About the Author
Steven Hendricks lives in Olympia, Wa. with his wife and two children. He teaches writing and book arts at The Evergreen State College. His work has appeared in The Denver Quarterly (2000), Conjunctions (2001), Fold: The Reader ( 2002), and The Encyclopedia Project Vol. 3 (Sidebrow, forthcoming). He earned his MFA in Writing at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2000. Little is Left to Tell is his first novel.
Visit Steven at his website.