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Fresh Air and Empty Streets – Oliver Cable

dreaming of books 8

Rather than a full book review, in these posts, I simply jot down a few lines on books I’ve enjoyed.

Cover: Fresh Air and Empty Streets by Oliver Cable

Fresh Air and Empty Streets by Oliver Cable

Having once sat drinking under a full moon on Sacré-Cœur’s steps, I immediately identified with this gem of a first novel set in the Paris streets. It is a sensitive story about a young man, Felix, who comes to meet, challenge and discover the father, Alexander, he has never known. In doing so, he is forced to question some of his own most staunchly held beliefs.

If the first few chapters feel slightly tentative, it is almost as if the author is wrestling with what sort of book he has inside himself. Then father and son finally meet and, as they explore their budding relationship, the writing becomes more assured. At times the prose truly catches alight, flaming brightly in passages describing Paris’s live jazz scene and Alexander’s regular haunts. The writing works best when, rather than trying to comment on the city or its tourists, the author simply slows his heartbeat to listen to the dark river running through himself and annotates its sounds, more in the nature of a poet than a narrator. The prose is strongest when focussing on those first tentative steps in a relationship – between father and son, or between new lovers.

With so many novels being bashed out these days by writers aiming to publish a couple of kilos of pulp each and every business quarter, it is a relief to find a writer who cares about his craft, as Cable clearly does. I look forward to his next book.

Get it here.

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