“Lindsay Hill’s Sea of Hooks begins with a man named Christopher Westall staring at his mother’s asphyxiated body. Her suicide is only the latest in a long series of traumatic events in Christopher’s life, and it creates an emotional fissure that widens into a vast gulf between life before and after her death. The narrative splits accordingly, weaving together two chronologies: one timeline describes his dysfunctional youth; the other follows his trip to Bhutan after his mother’s suicide.
“His upbringing is almost a parody of Victorian repression, while the trip to the “Far East” in search of spiritual healing is a painfully well-worn trope. Nevertheless, Sea of Hooks is an impressive work that uses an experimental, fractured format to great effect, benefiting from Hill’s powerful poetic sensibility. The novel is divided into very short chapters, ranging from a sentence to a paragraph in length. They build haphazardly, the way memories tumble forward after an initial triggering event. Each chapter is meticulously crafted, representing a stand-alone thought or image. Some include a significant amount of narrative detail, accumulating into a coherent image of Christopher’s childhood; others begin as simple descriptions and morph into stream-of-conscience explorations of his mental state.
“The novel’s title could easily refer to Hill’s unusual writing style, as each short chapter ‘hooks’ the reader afresh, offering a thought-provoking and multifaceted image best absorbed in an instant and pondered for days. Sea of Hooks is the rare novel that is both experimental and accessible, at once a joy and a challenge to read.”
—Emma Page, bookseller at Wellesley Books, Wellesley, MA and Island Books, Mercer Island, WA.
Editor’s note: Here’s what Roger Page, Emma’s father and owner of Island Books, had to say when queried about this familiar Emma Page name that showed up in this Shelf Awareness review:
“Yep… we split her into two kids… more productive that way. She is a sophomore at Wellesley, works for Shelf Awareness, works for Wellesley books, works holidays for us, Island Books, is beginning to do translation and will be studying on a Fulbright/ Killam scholarship in Montreal next year. Meanwhile, she is mostly a noodle waitress in Boston this summer.”
Buy Sea of Hooks from the folks at Island Books, the actual folks of the formidable—the book, word and noodle slinging—Emma Page.