Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Review: "A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall" by Will Chancellor
In the P. S. section of the paperback edition of Will Chancellor’s debut novel A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall, Chancellor is involved with a three way interview with two other authors, one of whom is Scott Cheshire, whose debut novel was High as the Horses’ Bridles. Both mention that it took them years to writer their first novels, which says something because my lukewarm reception to Cheshire’s novel is nearly identical to Chancellor’s. Just speaking about this one, since I barely remember reading Cheshire’s novel, I am deeply saddened to be giving a somewhat negative review to a first novel. I have a soft spot for new writers and fresh voices, maybe even more so than established authors, but when one I feel misses its mark on a consistent basis such as this one, even its fierce originality won’t keep me from an honest review. It tells the story of a father and son both steeped in ancient mythology and stifled by a ham-handed rendering of academia that verges, maybe intentionally, into the realm of parody. Owen Burr, the son, is a tall, beautiful and gifted water polo player who suffers a career ending injury that costs him an eye. In a fit of ennui, he travels to Europe and immerses himself in a world of chaotic artistic pursuit with like-minded, self-involved individuals. Leaving no contact info, this act forces his father, who is only referred to as Burr, to go in search of him. I liked some scenes on their own, such as a VICE interview with a hilariously self-indulgent artist named Kurt, Owen and a girl Stevie swapping favorite albums and the panic that ensued when an equality sticker was stolen off of Burr’s office door, but put together, it a jumbled mess of uninteresting prose, no plot and a weak narrative drive. It was hard for me to find in real point in it, which, for a debut novel, is something pertinent I look for.