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A poet’s imagination becomes too large. Book Review: Sleight

Kirsten Kaschock is known for her poetry, but she created a world that was simply too large to cram into a poem. Hence, her first novel was born, Sleight.

Photo taken from coffehousepress.org

Photo taken from coffehousepress.org

Summary

One of the most creative books I’ve ever read, Sleight captures a vivid, imaginative world surrounding an artistic sport that blends dance, architecture, acrobatics, and spoken word. Yeah, think about that for a while.

The complexities of the sleight performance developed throughout the novel match the depth of the characters that are venturing into uncharted territory in the sport. Kaschock spins a character web of past lovers and strained siblings. Every character has a full, complicated past, but the real questions is what their future holds. They have all come together to create a sleight performance that could be revolutionary or catastrophic.

Poetic Writing

Kaschock is a poet and it shows in the writing of her debut novel. Her writing is sharp, creative, and mysterious. She has beautiful metaphors including this ‘People are Mirrors’ metaphor I posted earlier.

sleight

An example of the spoken word portion of Kaschock’s fictional sport, sleight.

Rule-breaking Structure

The novel has footnotes, yes, footnotes that inform the reader of the history and details this world without interrupting the scene with heavy details. Kaschock uses them to great effective but I found myself skipping them completely after the first 80 pages or so, mainly because the pacing of the story was too slow for my taste.

Some chapters were written in theater-style dialogue, as seen in the photo below. I love dialogue, and therefore loved this structure. This allowed Kaschock to skip heavy description and setting details during dialogue but also forced her to implement hints at such descriptions in the dialogue itself.

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Kaschock uses a variety of writing techniques including theater-style dialogue (right).

 

Pacing

Although the story begins a bit disorienting, it is in a I-need-to-know-more sort way. The strange terminology and structure made me very eager to read on in the beginning. As the story went on, however, the slow pace really pushed me away. I felt the story really began halfway through the novel and by then, I felt indifferent.

Overall

The uniqueness of this novel could populate a blog twice this long, but I’m surprised if you even read this far. 😛 If you enjoy creative novels that break the rules, keeping you more interested in the writing than the story itself, this is the book for you. I enjoyed the book, but didn’t love it, and honestly had trouble charging through to the end. 2.5 stars. 

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Writing Prompt: Heartbreak

Don’t you dare write about a teenage girl who’s boyfriend cheated on her because he didn’t know how to tell her it was over. But if you do, it better be so far from the stereotype that it makes me laugh out loud, cry or scream. Stereotypes make me want to hurl. 

Write an internal dialogue of someone who has just been taken away from something they love. I encourage that something to not be a person. It could be a family heirloom, a suitcase full of money, an injured athlete who can’t play in the big game. Be creative!

As always, ping back if you complete the post. I’d love to read it!Image

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