Over the few short years of its existence as an imprint of Baraka Books, QC Fiction has now produced nine titles, with a tenth one in the works. Looking back over this diverse catalogue, it would be easy to compare them to snowflakes (no two are alike) or the proverbial sampler box of chocolates. However, I have come to think of QC Fiction as a major league baseball pitcher who has a number of different pitches in his repertoire. In Every Wave definitely represents a ‘change-up” pitch after the huge 600-page epic novel “Songs for the Cold of Heart” for this book is only about 78 pages long.In Every Wave is a novella composed of a collection of scrambled thoughts by a distraught man (who goes unnamed) who has been bereaved of his young daughter and only child Beatrice in a drowning accident. The body is never recovered (he claims the little casket is empty at the funeral). He and his wife Marie eventually drift apart, which is not surprising for a 2006 survey said that 16% couples said they divorced after the death of a child and 4% said it was because of the death. One reason given is that men and women grieve differently, and that is certainly the case here with the parents In Every Wave. While Marie appears to grieve in an accustomed way (eventually picking herself up and getting on with life), the father is inconsolable; he cannot manage to turn his unbearable remorse into sorrow. For he loved his daughter, loved playing with her, using his vibrant imagination to create different worlds for them to exist in:
“Do you remember our holidays on Neptune? We would play Marco Polo by the Great Dark Spot. The wind was so strong you could hardly put one foot in front of the other. One of us would hide in the methane clouds while the other searched blindfolded, hands out and trying not to stumble.”
It is his imagination coupled with his insurmountable grief that is his downfall, for he gets more and more delusional as time goes on. For example, he tells us three different times that Beatrice drowned and the body is never recovered. However, each time the story is different: first, by a river, then by the sea, then by a lake. Which is true? If the father thinks that way, can what he tells us in the rest of the story be trusted? Again, an example: are we to believe this man that has turned his living room into a beach and hears water rushing in the walls, subsists on raw eggs and a little flour, is mentally competent to actually build a seagoing sailboat and sail the Seven Seas in search of his baby girl? Too fantastic, yet Mr. Quimper tells it all in a most fascinating, tragic, and prosaic/poetic manner:
“Every day is the day you died. Every morning the sound of water drags me awake, and I lie listening in terror for minutes on end. I’ve combed the Nile and probed the Mediterranean and South China seas without finding any trace of you.”
In Every Wave is a lament for a lost child, a lost marriage and conclusively, a loss of meaning and purpose in one’s life. I’m sure everyone who reads this book will get something different out of it. I’ve only scratched the surface, and I’m pretty sure there might be veiled references to nautical mythology in the tale as well (the man feasts on sea serpents and his daughter is like a mermaid, swimming with Manatees and playing hide-and-seek in the seafoam). In short, a multi-layered tale of unbearable sadness and unrelieved grief as a father searches for a trace of his daughter in every water drop, in every glass of water, in every wave.
An impressive novella. Five stars!
This review is based on an Advance Reading Copy supplied by QC Fiction in exchange for an honest review.
In Every Wave by Charles Quimper, Translated by Gil Lefevbre
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