Bottom Line: Beautifully written and a wonderful message
“This gripping novel – inspired by true events – tells the interwoven stories of a deformed German infantryman; a lonely British film director; a young, blind museum curator; two Jewish American newlyweds separated by war; a lost child on the brink of starvation; and a caretaker at a retirement home for actors in Santa Monica. The same world moves under each of them, so that one by one, through seemingly random acts of selflessness, a veil is lifted to reveal the vital parts they have played in one another’s lives, and the illusion of their separateness.”
Thoughts: The theory of the butterfly effect explains how something as simple as a butterfly taking flight in one area of the world has far-reaching consequences for other portions of the globe. In Simon Van Booy’s latest novel, The Illusion of Separateness, tests the same concept on humankind. Through the vignettes of a diverse group of characters, Mr. Van Booy proves just how interconnected we are, even when it doesn’t appear to be so.
Mr. Van Booy’s words beg to be savored. Each sentence is carefully constructed and almost poetic in nature, maximizing the impact each simple word has upon the story and upon the reader. Similarly, the stories are short and to the point, without the detailed descriptions and character explanations that other novelists might feel necessary to add. Rather than creating an incomplete picture of character and setting, the lack of extraneous descriptive narrative enhances the overall message because there is nothing diluting the important details. While the sentence structure and short stories are conducive to quick reading, to do so would be to miss Mr. Van Booy’s extraordinary writing.
The cliché is that the world is indeed small and getting smaller. In The Illusion of Separateness, Mr. Van Booy explores this phenomenon but does so subtly, drawing out each character’s story while letting the reader connect the dots. More importantly, his lyrical words reveal the unknown influences every person has on each other as well as the results of such unconscious interactions. For a collection of stories simply told, the message with which a reader is left is a powerful one.