4 out of 4 stars
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Everything There Was To Tell is a collection of fiction by Ben Schwartz. In my opinion, the collection carries elements of philosophical fiction in its theme and mood. The main characters in the three fiction pieces that make up the book grapple with loss and grief. They struggle to come to terms with their realities.
In one piece, a son is engulfed by an acrimonious force that spills out in vitriolic outbursts that his siblings cannot comprehend after their father’s suicide. In another, a man attempts to comfort his friend who cannot come to terms with the finality of the repercussions of his negligence. In the final piece, a sick man is driven by some inexplicable force to journey through a hiking trail that bears memories of times past and loves and friendships lost.
The author conveys emotions, thoughts, and experiences through powerful literary devices. In one scene, the body of the ailing man is personified. The ailing man speaks to it as to an old teammate. He scolds his body for dragging him down, reminds it that they used to form a winning team. The use of personification in that scene was well done. I could empathize with the ailing man and imagine his distress and frustration in a way that could not have been achieved had the author used plain language. An array of other literary devices are used, the most common being the use of flashbacks to encompass past events that had a direct bearing on the present experiences of the characters.
I believe you will enjoy this book more if you are an avid reader and are familiar with notable writers and poets. The last story references quite a few literary pieces by poets like W.B. Yeats and Walt Whitman. In one scene, the ailing man pictures Whitman walking with him on the trail and has a conversation with him. I had to do a bit of research on who Whitman was and his works to understand that scene.
You will appreciate Everything There Was To Tell if you are looking for a book that will allow you to feel deeply as you share the experiences of the very human characters. On the other hand, you might want to give this book a skip if you enjoy books that are light-hearted. As mentioned in the outset, it deals with the heavy themes of loss, grief and coming to terms with reality.
Overall, this is a brilliant book. I have nothing negative to say about it. It has been well edited and formatted. The content is stirring, and it is a relatively short read. As such, I rate it 4 out of 4 stars. I thoroughly enjoyed it and cannot think of a reason to give it a lesser rating. I recommend it to philosophical fiction fans.
Everything There Was To Tell
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