I read this book a month ago, but I’m just getting around to writing my critique. Some books aren’t just read, they’re mulled, which seems appropriate for a book named VINE.
The title alone could be the subject of a full-length term paper (English majors take note). Four little letters, one little syllable, and yet worlds of meaning. Wine, fruition, fermentation, serpentine, coils, creeper, insinuation, inebriation, connection, strangulation…. Think of anything from Kudzu to Chianti, and you find this book enriched by that metaphor.
Not that it’s cluttered. Far from it. The characters are clear and distinct, but multiple points of view show each one from different perspectives. I don’t know if you’ve ever been tiddly, but alcohol is sort of famous for blurring your vision and judgment, and there’s something of that in VINE. Does that mean what I think it does? Did that really happen? Please tell me that isn’t what it looks like.
I volunteered with Shakespeare In Central Park in Louisville, Kentucky, many long years ago, the stage on which VINE is set. I know that park, that neighborhood, those denizens, so it was especially evocative for me to have them come off the page and back into my head. Michael Williams has captured his setting both realistically and artistically; if you’ve never been to Fourth and Oak, you will have been once you read VINE.
This is a book I’m glad I got in paper, although I may very well buy it electronically, as well: I want it permanently, but I’d also like to have it instantly available wherever I have my eReader.
One quibble: It would have been kind for Mr. Williams to preface the book with a slightly less brief definition of the terms of Greek tragedy than was in the Author’s Note. Still, my ignorance is not the author’s fault, nor is my education his responsibility.
I’ll be reading this one again.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Write a disturbing scene set in a familiar and specific spot.