Carellin Brooks's One hundred days of rain is a difficult book to review. On the one hand, the story, set in Vancouver, is pretty simple: The unnamed protagonist is breaking up with
A Rhodes Scholar, Brooks is a poet who has published two books of poetry and edited two anthologies. This is her first novel. Anyone interested in writing, anyone looking for an original work of literary art, anyone willing to be caught up in Brooks's extraordinary prose for the imagination and possibilities in the language should read One hundred days of rain.
But rather than assert, let me sample the prose virtually at random to give you a taste:
"Rain pummels tiny fists on the window. Tinkles and dances, a small drumming like fingers on a tabletop. Rain gusts and smatters against the glass, pushed by wind. She imagines herself reaching through the phone cord, along the wires, to change that voice to something gasping and frightened. A desire so vivid she feels her hands clutching, the strain of the tendons."
A description of Saturday morning routine with her son: "She bakes. Cornbread, banana bread, puffed yellow German pancake. Something hot to table. Inside they sit ignoring the streaming gloomy world. Lifting cakes still warm to their mouths, buttering the crumbly slices with voluptuous concentration. Their world shrunk to yellow box, small and warm and most importantly dry."
That quotation, by the way, is half of a chapter.
One more—although it is tempting to go on quoting for pages: "Easter. A time of renewal or so it's said, bruited about even, the possibility of growth. So many chances for anniversaries and fresh starts and her is another. She arises from her dented bed filled with resolution. She will sort that errant paper, the piles of it she's been augmenting all year. She will put her taxes into order this time, really. Everything due at the library will be returned, all the languishing dry cleaning rescued, perhaps she will even begin cleaning for their move. The sills and lintels can't accumulate much dust in a month, can they? It isn't too early to wipe down her fridge now, surely?"
Note the metaphors, similes: "tiny fists," "like fingers on a tabletop." Yet so much is pure precise description: "streaming gloomy world," "dented bed," "the languishing dry cleaning." The sentences—the sentence fragments even—are vivid with detail, with sensation. Adding "really" to the sentence about taxes adds a paragraph about unkept promises in a word.
A back-cover blurb says it better than I: "Carellin Brooks offers a loud and persistent rejoinder to the idea of 'the pathetic fallacy': the internal and external do coalesce, and they do so at the apex of the most precise and revealing sentences I have read in years."
There. Have I made One hundred days of rain more appealing?