Rating: 3 1/2 stars
Jonathan is wasting away from AIDS, the punishment for a night of bad judgment and fleeting infidelity. Kitty, Jonathan’s anorexic wife, is wasting away from the knowledge that her husband once strayed and will soon die as a result. With naïve hope, Kitty brings Jonathan to Dr. Kack, the inventor of a machine that restores the body, rendering it indestructible if the excruciating pain it delivers can be tolerated.
Dr. Kack told Kitty to keep this meeting a secret, along with the existence of their intimate relationship. The doctor is desperate to have his machine tested to its fullest ability, despite the risks and past failures, which he disclosed to Jonathan but promises him total control and the ability to stop the machine at any time. However, after having Jonathan strip naked, immobilizing him in the contraption, sending a worried, fretting Kitty behind the curtain and out of sight, Dr. Kack renders Jonathan helpless to stop what will be the end of life as he knows it and the beginning of a journey through his own mind.
Once the ordeal ended Jonathan found he could not move or even blink; however, his mind was at peace and he embraced his stillness. Even when his wife and her lover folded him up, put him in a garment bag, left him in the trunk of a car for three days, loaded him on a boat, chained an iron statue of Venus de Milo around his neck and dumped him into the ocean, Jonathan’s thoughts were of his love for his wife and his sadness regarding the pain he caused her.
Living motionless at the bottom of the ocean for years, Jonathan’s only thoughts were of Kitty and his undying love for her. His only companion, Venus; an iron goddess of love, who would speak to him, giving him comfort, as well as furthering his purpose. When Jonathan realizes he can once again move, he is momentarily distracted from his thoughts of Kitty and vows to journey far into the depth of the ocean and the earth so that he can continue to meditate on his wife undisturbed. So begins a long reflective journey that spans years, yet seems to take mere moments.
It is not often that a book is written in such a way that all the words say exactly what they are meant to without having to add more to explain them. In this novella, Graziano’s writing was focused, each word meticulously placed with a specific purpose. The story, however fantastical, was smooth, flowing and strangely calming. Although there is a small rough patch midway through, it’s not enough to throw things off course or detract from the inevitable (but far from formulaic) ending, which lulls the reader into a calm, contemplative stillness long after the cover has been closed.
Paperback: 152 pages
Publisher: Leapfrog Press (November 1, 2008)