It’s time once again for RIM. I wish I could do these more often than I do, but grad school makes outside reading problematic, so I do what I can when I can. That said, I just finished Cruel by Eli Wilde.
There are certain things I feel that people should experience once because they need to. One such example is the film 8MM. These are things you should experience once, but once is enough. Cruel is one of these experiences.
The book is what its title suggests: it’s cruel. Some passages gave me goosebumps from their unvarnished honesty. Others made me feel slightly ill. The novel is set up in cantos, short memory passages that make reading it a one evening experience. That is, if you can take that much in one sitting. I could not. I found myself reading in chunks, letting parts digest and break down before going back for more. The first half, for me, was harder to get through than the last half. I guess it’s easier to distance yourself from a damaged man than it is to watch a child becoming damaged.
The prose is well crafted and that’s largely what makes the book work the way it does. Less skill from the author would have left it feeling gratuitous. There are jumps in time, but each canto is dated so its easy to keep track of the time. The first person POV makes the novel uncomfortably intimate. It’s wonderful. It has a mostly linear progression, with acts of cruelty lining up like dominoes waiting for the push.
Read this book. Take as much time as you need to in order to get through it, but do it.