Your Secrets Sleep With Me by Darren O'Donnell (Coach House Press), 216 pages, $18.95 paper. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Reading playwright Darren O'donnell's debut novel, you feel like you're sitting at one of his plays. Throughout Your Secrets Sleep With Me, we're told by the narrator to do certain things. Consider this. Smell that. Look carefully at the person sitting near us.
It's an intimate feeling, and it's relevant because O'Donnell's trying to capture all the swirling sensations and ideas involved in fully experiencing our self-conscious metropolis.
Set during a tumultuous summer after the U.S. has declared martial law and the CN Tower has fallen into the lake, possibly to become a link to the south, the book centres on a racially diverse bunch of kids who range in age from about eight to 16, with attributes from the banal to X-Men-type powers.
O'Donnell's an observant, often poetic writer who can describe the city's wants and needs with plenty of knowing winks. He's got lots of sympathy for these kids, who sip on designer coffees and try to grapple with everything from police violence to pornography to how to become a famous DJ.
But many narrative threads introduced at the beginning aren't woven through the rest of the book, and much of the middle lacks tension. O'Donnell gets too distracted by trips to Hindu temples or meditations on how our shit compares to others'.
He's a terrific writer - pick any page at random and you'll be seduced - but I'm not sure he's got his shit together as a novelist. Yet.
O'Donnell reads tonight (July 8) at the Oasis. See O'Donnell reads tonight (July 8) at the Oasis. See Readings