Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Review of Willnot by James Sallis (No Exit Press, 2016)
Willnot is somewhat of a curious read. It traces the unfolding of some events – the discovery of some buried bodies, the arrival of an awol marine followed by a FBI agent, some sniper shots, and the ailments of town folk – through the eyes of Hale, a small town doctor. Unlike most crime fiction that has strong story arc driven by an investigation to solve a mystery, in typical Sallis style the narrative drifts along to provide a more metaphysical tale about the meaning of life in small town America. As such the story is more reflexive and philosophical, concerning itself with the mundane moments and mini-dramas in how life takes place. The tale almost has a mystical quality, as if Hales is living out moments from his father’s science fiction novels. The result is a thoughtful literary read that doesn’t seem to make much progress and has little in the way of denouement, but nonetheless is entrancing in its own, meandering way.