Between Grief and Nothing

At the beginning of the year I was full of sweet purpose and ready to read 100 books before 2015. Well, it’s March and I have one book down.

A friend of mine gifted me one of his favorite books called Nocturne by Adam Rapp. It is actually a play, but reads like a novella/extended monologue. There is very little dialogue and I have to agree with my friend – the language is beautiful in some parts. It is a scant 81 pages so a very quick read, but also a very depressing one. I can’t tell you how many times I almost cried while reading this, but it was a lot.

The premise of the play is a young man (seventeen) accidentally kills his sister when the brake line on his car fails and he hits her. The play then follows the son and how he lives with his guilt and grief. We, the reader, are told about how it essentially destroys his family.

Although, the story and plot points are unique and thought-provoking, my main critique of this play is I wanted to see/be shown more. As mentioned before, the entire piece is set up like a monologue and has very little stage direction. I have never seen it performed, nor am I director, but if I were to run this play I would play the scenes out behind “the son” as he spoke so that we could see and experience with him. There are some scenes that obviously could not be done (car crash), but most of the others (hospital, father in the study, father in the apartment) would be good to see.

I am a fiction writer who focuses on short stories and novels so my review of this play must be taken with a grain of salt because I really don’t know what I’m talking about. I would love to see this turned into a novella or novel where we could let some of these scenes unfurl naturally without the narrator telling us everything

Also: “The hipbone is connected to the leg bone.” Just wasn’t doing it for me. It was too disconnected from the text and touched back on two times too many.

Did love: “If you conjugate in the past tense, it’s all the same.” (pg 8)

-My interpretation: Once it happens, killing someone, it’s all the same. The person, the intentions, and circumstances don’t matter

“We have a small bearded gnome that looks as if he’s suffering from some sort of gastrointestinal disorder.” (pg 13)

“The taste of it still haunts me. Sickens me. You can suck on a penny and get pretty close.” (pg 39)

So overall? Read it with a box of tissues, but definitely read it.

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