Saturday, July 19, 2008

Out Backward by Ross Raisin

A strange and unusual book, written in the broad Yorkshire dialect, easy enough to pick up as you go along. The author has certainly done his research. A young boy is accused of something he didn’t actually do and is kicked out of school. He must work at the home farm and forget about education. When we come into his story he is about 19 years old. Downtrodden and a town misfit, he lives an eventful life within his own mind. The story is sometimes humorous, often deceptive, and somewhat depressing. He has separated himself from everyone in the village and when not working on the sheep farm, is wandering his beloved moors with his favorite dog..

One day a “townie” family moves in next door, with a 15 year old daughter who doesn’t appear to have any qualms about being with or being seen with Sam, in fact she encourages that they be seen together. The book is written mostly from the imagination of the boy. He “talks” mostly in his mind to objects animate and inanimate and his mind contrives stories and make-believe conversations. The concept is interesting, a little hard to grasp at times but usually becomes clear as time goes on. The reader gets a feeling for the boy, and it seems he is often accused of things he has not necessarily done. A row between the girl next door and her mother leads to a mad dash across the moors for both Sam and Josephine where Sam feels entirely at home. Though the town believes him to be backward, he is knowledgeable on a number of planes and I feel that his life could easily have been very different which is disconcerting and depressing to realize. Reading this book I felt a sense of person and place which took on a life of its own. Interesting, sometimes brooding, occasionally humorous, often deceptive, and definitely not boring though a little slow to read, an unusual subject for a debut novel. I would not recommend this book to someone who likes their books cut and dried, but I would recommend it to anyone who likes to delve into the whys and wherefores of life and the mind of the unusual.

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