Just now I finished an amazing book.
It had such power that I feel like I've had the wind knocked out of me.
I can't really recall many books that have made me feel that way, and for some reason I am doubly surprised that I know the author. How can someone I know write that damned good??? Stupid thing to say, isn't it? Besides, I know many tremendous writers, but Kevin Craig, well, I've talked to him. I've shared meals with him, and I knew he was good – he's won the Muskoka Novel Marathon about a hundred billion times (four, actually) – but, shit, I had no idea he was that good.
The Reasons is a family story centred around a mother – Maggie Reason – with severe mental illness and her helpful and troubled son, Tobias. There's more to the family, a couple of sisters and an ex-husband, but the story is told by Maggie and Tobias, switching viewpoints at the beginning of each chapter.
Some bad stuff happens to the Reasons. Stuff that would destroy even the sanest families. I can't tell you exactly what, or I'd be spoiling it for you, but the plot isn't what grabbed me. Sure, it kept me turning pages, but it was the way Kevin wrote it that absolutely blew me away. He is a master of prose, truly, a master, and his insights into the human condition (which are Oprah-worthy, I kid you not) coupled with is easy style and his earnest prose, put me in mind of some of my all time favourite novels: The Shipping News, for example. Or anything by Margaret Laurence.
Take this quote, for example. It's the first time I ever highlighted anything on my Kindle and I almost screwed it up – for a moment I thought I'd erased entire paragraphs! But it touched me deep inside, these words from the mouth of Maggie, and I wanted to share them with you:
Like icebergs, we are all mostly under water. A faint glimmer of each of us rises above the surface and is visible for a short pocket of time. When those islands disappear, though ... they are not lost. They flourish beneath the surface. We are still attached where it matters ...
I am a ship. The ocean is vast. But I am not leaving the island of Deja and disappearing off the horizon. I am moored to it. And she to me. Like time, the waters rise and fall. Her time is beneath the surface.
But that is fine with me. I have nothing but time. I will bide it.
Oh be still my heart. Such glorious, meaningful writing. I flew through this book; absolutely couldn't put it down, and when I had finished the last, heart-stopping chapter, I went back and read the final pages again and again.
The Reasons isn't Kevin Craig's first book. He is also the author of Summer on Fire and Sebastian's Poet, both available on Amazon. He's also an accomplished poet, playwright, father and grandfather, and, just this week, he walked the Camino de Santiago, the Way of St. James, with conviction, and with joy. (And probably with sore feet.)
I always knew Kevin was a cool person, but until I finished The Reasons, just now, I never understood the sheer brilliance of his written work.
By the way, nobody asked me to write this. Authors very rarely ask me for reviews. But when I come across something really amazing, I want to share it with you.
And this – this is amazing.
You can find Kevin's books on Amazon here.
You can find his blog, here.