THE FEARSOME PARTICLES by Trevor Cole (McClelland & Stewart), 344 pages, $32.99 cloth. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Here's an example of a nearly great book that just doesn't get it together in the end.
Trevor Cole's terribly timely novel The Fearsome Particles goes inside the home and minds of a gradually disintegrating family.
Gerald has CEO aspirations but manages a failing company that sells window screens. His wife, Vicki, dresses up high-end real estate to increase its market value. Their son, chemistry whiz Kyle, has signed up for civilian duty supporting the military in Afghanistan, with awful results. He's been sent home after a mysterious "off-site incident."
Cole takes on some heavy themes: middle-class desperation, the vagaries of real estate, and most importantly, Canada's Afghan mission. Kyle's first-person perspective provides a compelling and disturbing account of life in and around the military. Don't assume, suggests Cole, that Canada has a kinder, gentler armed forces.
In vey precise and skilled prose, Cole gets us very close to these characters, and the story consistently holds our interest.
The book's not easy to put down, especially since the author only teasingly and piece by piece lets slip the information we want regarding Kyle's failed mission.
But multi-strand narratives have to connect in the end, and despite his skilful, intriguing set-up, Cole's Particles fails to cohere into a whole.
Cole reads as part of the Harbourfront Reading Series on Wednesday (September 20). See Readings, this page. Cole reads as part of the Harbourfront Reading Series on Wednesday (September 20). See Readings, this page.