The Sound of Loneliness – Book Review
By Craig Wallwork
My Rating: Four Stars ****
The main character of this book is Daniel Crabtree. He is in his early 20’s and has recently moved out from his mother’s house, his father having died when he was 13 years old. He is now living on his own, considers himself a struggling writer and living from some sort of government welfare. He thinks that in order to become the great writer he believes himself to be, he must be subjected to great suffering. In this way, he will obtain the tools needed to write his great masterpiece. Suffering he seems to be willing to do but the actually writing… not so much.
Daniel Crabtree drives me crazy, which is why I ended up having a love/hate relationship with this book!
Let me explain.
First the love.
I adored the way the author described things. The imagery used in this novel, is five-star quality for sure. For example:
No matter what floor you arrived at, an old bicycle would be propped up against one of its walls, the front tyre missing or handlebars rusted. A few of the residents hung window-baskets or mounted brackets for hanging baskets. There were never any flowers in them.
This novel is FULL of gems like the one above. His description of people, places and things, goes way beyond average. For that alone, Craig Wallwork is one to watch.
I loved the dark comedy woven through out this story. An example is when Daniel enters into his cancer stricken Uncle Billy’s apartment to discover, what he thinks is his deceased body on the toilet. His reaction:
My experience in dealing with the dead was at novice level. I tried to remember films and television shows where the actor had stumbled upon a dead body to understand the correct procedure for such an event. They used the phone to ring the police, and when the police arrived, the person who found the body was usually accused of killing the person. I returned the receiver and sat on the couch to mull it all over.
Another example of this dark comedy was when Daniel’s son was born weak and with only half a stomach. His reaction:
I couldn’t see the complications of having a baby that needed only half the food of other babies, and probably shat less too, but I had to accept their efforts in wanting to provide us with a fully formed child.
Many characters in The Sound of Loneliness, suffer from alcoholism. The author describes alcoholism and its realities so vividly. At times the author relieves the reader and numbs that reality down effectively, with his use of dark humour… but the deep sadness of it, still remains and exposes a necessary and accurate truth. This is a difficult balance to achieve but Craig Wallwork does so quite gracefully. He writes:
It struck me that most of the people who drank were just waiting for their end, seeing out the hours among those already dying…
Now the hate.
By the end of the book, the main character made me nauseous with his way of avoiding responsibility for his own life and his own choices. As a reader, I had hoped and had expected him to obtain some self-awareness or some maturity by the end of the novel. It didn’t happen. The character remained stagnant. A true sense of himself, always out of reach and well beyond his reasonable grasp. His fanciful dreams and wishful thinking was supported only by his ego and certainly not by any actions taken on his own part.
Daniel ‘inherits’ Emma, when his Uncle dies. Emma is a beautifully compassionate and unselfish 15 year-old girl. A girl who, a character like Daniel certainly needs in his life but in no way deserves.
Emma wanted to understand me, and I guess she wanted to understand love too. Never had I wanted to sit with a person and talk about life and the silliness of it all more than I did with Emma. I wanted to brush the hair from her eyes and articulate the mistakes maturity brings. Wisdom does not come with age, only with experience.
The above quote (which is from Daniel’s perspective) is evidence of his self-delusion and his grandiose sense of self. Daniel is 8 years older than Emma but she already has more wisdom, kindness, and compassion for others than he does or ever will. The connection between Daniel and Emma, brings such hope to the reader that he will grow up because of her influence but he does not. He allows their age difference to be an insurmountable obstacle and he abruptly ends their friendship with no true explanation to Emma, an impressionable, young and vulnerable girl. The way that Daniel handles himself at the end of their friendship, is cruel and unforgivable.
Near the end of the book, Daniel returns to his home town, novel unwritten and all short stories he has actually written – rejected. He considers himself to be a lowly workingman with a mortgage, a wife and child – something he never wanted. Daniel expected better than that for himself. He feels that he has failed and he is right. Not because he is unpublished but because he can not appreciate himself, even see himself, as he is. He rejects the people and the love that is available to him. He is ungrateful, miserable and lonely and the only person or thing to blame, is himself.
As a reader, I can not forgive this character for being so unyielding, so depressing, so unaware of himself and so stuck.
For this reason, I awarded The Sound of Loneliness, four stars, instead of five.
So, there is your love and there is your hate. I love the dark humour, the wonderful imagery and the brave, open raw style Craig Wallwork has and for those reasons – this book is well worth reading. However, I hate that the author never allowed any real growth to happen in the dismal, stagnant, and truly selfish main character that he created.
DON’T FORGET TO ENTER THE CONTEST (info about how… can be found below)!
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BEST OF LUCK!
My Favourite Quotes From The Sound Of Loneliness
And so my anger toward people became the one constant fire that burned within me. (pg 9)
I find it hard to see how a person can place trust in the hands of God and Fate, when neither entity has provided for them in the past. (pg 19)
It was true that the only suitcase never moved from the top of my parents’ wardrobe in the twenty-one years I lived there, its role more concerned in keeping my father’s porno magazines safely hidden from view than allowing recreation to sully its interior. (pg 20)
In the infancy of life, the womb is more an ocean liner, gently rocked by shifting seas with access to the twenty-four-hour buffet. (pg 63)
Sometimes a writer forgets where fiction ends and their life starts again. (pg 72)
It seemed to me the only noticeable changes she ever made were the bed sheets. (pg 107)
I am one of those men willing to make the same mistake over and over. Not because I wish to experience the same anguish, but more that I can live in hope my luck will change. It never did. (pg 117)
Death has a weird effect on many people; for me it made me compliant and agreeable without dispute. (pg 120)
A female can be many things, but their candidness toward talking openly is a quality I have grown to appreciate. (pg 153)
Having Death breathing down your neck really adds to the absurdity of life. (pg 184)
Like me, he must have known loneliness allowed mistakes to be your own, risks undertaken of no consequence to anyone but yourself. You live life freely that way. (pg 202)
These are the solutions that mask the cracks in your heart, a life that allows you never to be dependent on anyone, or in turn, they dependent on you. (pg 202)
For that reason I envied the path less travelled because it was paved with ideals and self-deluded pipedreams. (pg 202)
About the Book – About the Author – Prizes!!!
Welcome to Novel Publicity’s first ever publishing house blog tour. Join us as three new titles from Perfect Edge–we’re calling them the Perfect Edge Trifecta–tour the blogosphere in a way that just can’t be ignored. And, hey, we’ve got prizes!
About the book:
Manchester in 1991 is a town suffering under the weight of high unemployment and massive government budgetary deficits that is plunging the UK into a recession.
To Daniel Crabtree, a struggling writer, it is the backcloth to his first novel, one that will see him become a famous published author. Living off mostly water and flour, Daniel has embraced penury into his life under the mistaken belief that many young artists have: one needs to suffer for success in art. But Daniel is a terrible writer. In the three years since signing on the dole, of every morning chastising his Irish singing neighbour for waking him from his sleep, and scrounging food from his close friend Henry Soperton, Daniel Crabtree has produced one short story. His heart is bereft of words as much as his pockets are of money.
The Sound of Loneliness is a story of love, and how a poor starving man chasing a dream came to the understanding that amidst the clamour of life, the sound of loneliness is the most deafening of all.
About the author:
Craig Wallwork lives in West Yorkshire, England. He is an artist, filmmaker and writer. His short stories have appeared in many publications in the US and the UK. He is the author of the short story collection Quintessence of Dust, and the novels To Die Upon a Kiss and The Sound of Loneliness. Craig is also the fiction editor at Menacing Hedge Magazine. Connect with Craig on his website, Facebook, GoodReads, or Twitter.
About the prizes:
Who doesn’t love prizes? You could win either of two $25 Amazon gift cards, an autographed copy of The Sound of Loneliness, or an autographed copy of one of its tour mates, Stranger Will by Caleb J Ross or Angel Falls by Michael Paul Gonzalez. Here’s what you need to do…
- Enter the Rafflecopter contest
- Leave a comment on my blog.
That’s it! One random commenter during this tour will win a $25 gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win–the full list of participating bloggers can be found here. The other $25 gift card and the 3 autographed books will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form on the official Perfect Edge Trifecta tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!
Perfect Edge Books was founded in late 2011 to unite authors whose books weren’t “obviously” commercial. Our books tend to sit in various genres all at once: literary fiction, satire, neo-noir, sci-fi, experimental prose. We believe that literary doesn’t have to mean difficult, and that difficult doesn’t just mean pointless. We prefer to cultivate a word-of-mouth approach to marketing, and keep production as simple as we can. Learn more at www.PerfectEdgeBooks.com.
Learn more about The Sound of Loneliness‘s tour mates HERE.