Monday, January 3, 2011

The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard

The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard is perhaps the most interesting novel I’ve read in a long while.  On the surface, the story is simple: Nora Lindell disappears one Halloween night and the emotional repercussions reach throughout the community, beyond the limits of past and present.  The prose is mesmerizing, compelling the reader to turn each page.  Even when an incident is distasteful it rings true.  The plural first person point-of-view voice could easily fall into an affectation but is used to such good effect, reinforcing the implication of how the group of male peers feel about what happened to Nora before her disappearance and what they imagine her life was like afterwards.

The enigmatic, even ambiguous, voice, referring to “we” rather than “I,” allows the narrator(s) to be both complicit and distant.  Both immersed in the events and forced to merely imagine most of what really happens, the questions unravel even as the various threads of the stories are woven, loosely moving in and out of the warp and woof of time.  Past, present, and future all inform one another and seemingly unimportant details emerge as complicated with implication.

I don’t know how Pittard managed to plot out the story in such a non-linear manner, circling around each truth like evidence in a crime scene.  There are no clear reasons or answers and, for this reason, the hypnotic quality of the narrator(s) ruminations is seductive and repulsive, an obsession that overshadows every page.  Pittard doesn’t make this story easy and offers no easy answers.  This is a poetic mid-life crisis, shared in a tone that is lyrical and evocative and, if there is no climactic understanding it is because imagination, whether it comes close to the truth or not, inevitably ends in metaphor and everyone in this novel–from the missing girl to her shattered family to the narrator(s) to the community over all–never sees one another above and beyond the roles they play, if not in real life then in one another’s imaginations. And the suggestion is that perhaps none ever sees themselves beyond what they imagine they are.

Definitely a provocative novel that I would recommend to just about anyone I know.

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