Author: David Michael Belczyk
No. of Pages: 208
First Released: Still waiting to be published
Synopsis: “It examines four generations of characters diverse in time and place whose varied struggles distill a unified expression of human need. The characters are interconnected in unusual but intimate ways, for example: the immigrant shoe-man works his life away in a dying town to see his son wrongly arrested by a man whose shoes he shines; as a student, the son watched his friend betray the memory of a departed mother by stealing her makeup for a drunken gag; the friend marries a waitress who secretly loves a man atoning for his past by refurbishing a house; a man whose paintings were rejected by his love, the granddaughter of the woman who boards the shoe-man after a fire. Elynia is the only named character in the manuscript but appears only in reference by others. The other characters occupy iconic roles, each representing a stage or state in life. The reader’s second-hand knowledge of Elynia mirrors the search for identity that haunts the unnamed, tactile characters and blurs their distinctions.”
Comments and Critique: This is one of the hardest reviews I have ever had to write. However, in my unfailing attempt to be honest about every book I read, I must go forth. I will confess that I realized my dislike of poetry while reading Elynia. The lyrical prose in which this book is written kept me from ever becoming immersed in the novel because I was spending all of my time trying to figure out what was happening or solving the question of who exactly was Elynia.
I realize that this is Mr. Belczyk’s first attempt at a novel, and I respect his courage at putting himself out there as he has. Unfortunately, I feel that with this novel, he was trying too hard to be different from other authors. First we have the fact that the entire novel is written in lyrical prose. As I already mentioned, this narration device just did not work for me. Then we have the words themselves. I consider myself well-read and erudite, but the vocabulary used throughout the novel left me scratching my head. Either Mr. Belcyzk was making up words or he was using words I have never seen before in print.
The storm metaphor for love and for life, to me, was extremely depressing. The storm’s power and the futility of the individual rain drops to stay cohesive was rather upsetting to me. I took away with me the clear idea that no matter what our intentions and struggles, things will never turn out the way we expect them to do. Does anyone else find this a sad commentary on life?
The storm metaphor begins each chapter, and then we get to the epilogue. Despair and the futility of our efforts permeates each chapter except for the epilogue. That is filled with such love and hope that I had to wonder if I was reading a completely different book. Then I began to question whether I had missed the entire point of the book. For the epilogue completely negates the idea that life or love is futile. It was a disconcerting switch in opinions.
That being said, I feel I was not the best audience for this book. It really is intended for those who enjoy poetry. I do not. I felt like I was missing too much to truly enjoy it. I found the lack of names confusing and distracting. I also confess that I read this on a plane, which was not the right environment for this type of book. It requires careful, contemplative reading – something I was not able or willing to give at the time I read this. For this reason, I cannot lay the blame for my discontent with the book or the author. I fully take the blame for not liking Elynia and strongly feel that others will definitely enjoy it more than I did.
I do thank Mr. Belczyk for entrusting me with a copy of his book and wish him all the luck getting it published!
Thanks, Stacy! I feel horrible that I couldn't be more effusive in praise for a book that is not yet published, but I knew I would be telling a lie if I did so. I stand firmly by my belief that there is an appropriate audience for this book. It just wasn't me.
It's hard to review a book that you don't like when you've received it from the author. Thanks for the honesty.