Reviewed by Laura Roberts
Set in Manchester, England in 1991, The Sound of Loneliness follows desolate narrator Daniel Crabtree from his dreary apartment, to drearier pubs, and back again. Although Daniel is ostensibly a writer, he has only completed a single short story thus far, and has dreams of making it big, though little ambition beyond charging his friend “in publishing” with getting someone interested in the story.
Living off his monthly unemployment checks, Daniel begs or borrows (and occasionally steals) everything, from food and drink to the shabby furnishings in his apartment. Too proud to admit to his family that he is a starving artist, he makes up grandiose tales of his success for both his mother and uncle’s benefit. Is he kidding himself, or does he really think that this one story will one day make a name for him?
It’s hard to tell, as Daniel often comes off as delusional, thanks to his overinflated ego. Despite the fact that he occasionally realizes how awful his writing is, he continues to rage against the publishing industry that rejects him, do the bare minimum to receive his monthly welfare checks, and otherwise continue his sad existence.
If this sounds like a tale you’ve heard before, you’re right. The UK apparently has thousands – perhaps millions – of these aspiring author types, living off the government, avoiding an honest day’s work, and seemingly in thrall to the falsehood that suffering and poverty make Great Art. What makes Craig Wallwork’s book different than the dime-a-dozen plot is that the author himself sees through this ruse, and shows his audience what suffering and poverty really bring. To wit: bitterness, hatred, a growling belly, growing insanity, debt, and the inability to change one’s position in life.
Oh, and let’s not forget the alcoholism, for it wouldn’t be a tale of soul-crushing poverty in the UK without the omnipresent pub!
Oddly enough, though I thoroughly detested Daniel Crabtree as a character, I found Wallwork’s book quite engaging. Perhaps it was the dreary day that lent an English air to my reading, requiring a hot cup of tea and a purring cat for accompaniment, but I found myself curious to see where this sad sack (Daniel, that is) would take me. Though Daniel is, indeed, a terrible writer (and would be a terrible human being, were he real), readers might take pleasure in seeing him so thoroughly thwarted by his sorry attempts at publishing. After all, if the cream rises to the top, there will always be the chunks of whey and assorted detritus to sink to the bottom. What of these would-be writers?
They are the Daniel Crabtrees of the world, persistently beating their own heads against the wall, perpetuating the sorry stereotype of the starving artist, who suffers humiliations for his art. And yet here we see that this humiliations are not really for art’s sake at all. They are merely the pride that goeth before the character’s fall. Is it still a tragedy when one’s tragic flaw is the belief that one is actually better than all of the fools he reads about in books?
Though The Sound of Loneliness is truly a portrait of a young man desperate to become an artist who will likely never succeed, and thus a rather dismal view for aspiring authors, it is perhaps a more realistic take on artistic dreams. After all, we cannot all go from rags to riches, à la J.K. Rowling. Some of us will fail. And what then?
To find out what happens to this dream deferred, you’ll have to read http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1780996012/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1780996012&linkCode=as2&tag=blackheartmag-20The Sound of Loneliness.
EXTRA BONUS SECTION
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 three autographed books will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form linked below or on the official Perfect Edge Trifecta tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!
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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.