The book I’m looking at today comes from Avalanche Books, whom I gather are largely a publisher of poetry and short prose. Chris Tutton is a poet who has seven collections with Avalanche, though The Failing of Angels is a novel – a novel unmistakably with a poet’s touch.
As a child, Tutton’s narrator is rejected and abused by his parents. He wants their love, but they refuse it,and it takes time for him to find love elsewhere. Music provides him with a form of release:
The sensation of singing was like loosening the fingers of my clenched fist and releasing a small bird trapped beneath their thicket in my palm. Then watching it take to the air on unbridled notes, fluttering and weaving in the clear blue, safe, sunny sky; coruscating unfettered in the swallow-lift breeze of its wings.
Tutton’s prose is striking, full of alliteration, rhythm and unusual images. It’s as though, by telling his life story this way, the narrator can carve out a space of his own, a way to meet reality afresh on his own terms. The narrator’s mother sets up her own religion, a different path to engaging with the world, though tragedy is never far away.
What you get in The Failing of Angels is a strong, heady brew of language that’s well worth reading.