Syllables of Rain

D S Lliteras. Rainbow Ridge, $16.95 trade paper (152p) ISBN 978-1-937907-52-5
Llewelyn, a character in several previous novels by Lliteras (Viet Man), returns here in full midlife crisis. He’s a Vietnam veteran whose marriage is falling apart, and so is he—“a shell in need of repair.” He often hears “the sounds of small arms fire that had haunted me since the war” in his head. Leaving his wife, he heads to his previous home in Baltimore, Md., hoping to reconnect with his former self. Before leaving Baltimore, he used to hang around Jansen, a Zen Buddhist who is now dead. Instead of Jansen, Llew finds another person from his Baltimore past, the Vietnam veteran Cookie. Previously, “Cookie had kept both feet upon the ground,” but now he’s suffering an existential crisis and is in a downward spiral. “I am lost forever—doomed. Hell-bound,” Cookie says. Both men are elliptic about their despair. They cannot, or will not, speak openly about what is in their minds. The author models his book on Japanese haibun—it’s a slim volume in a prose style full of figurative language and interspersed with haiku. This touching book has some lovely phrases (“empty-shelled neighborhoods left to be repaired”) and a satisfactory resolution. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/28/2017
Release date: 10/01/2017
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