Friday, November 25, 2011

REVIEW: Revolver (Built with amazing mood, tone and tension since 1910/1899)

Sedgwick, M. (2009).  Revolver. New York: Roaring Brook Press.

201 pages.

Appetizer:  Sig's father is dead. He died in an accident on the arctic ice. He died falling through thin ice that he should have--must have--known better than to cross over. 14-year-old Sig doesn't question the tragedy of his father's death too much until the very next day, when a strange and threatening man arrives at the family's cabin while Sig is there alone with his father's dead body. The man insists Sig's father took something from him and Sig must decide whether or not to use the revolver that his family has kept hidden for ten years.

Goodness gracious, ya'll! What a well-structured and tense little book.

Told in short chapters and in interweaving periods between 1899 when Sig's father first got the revolver and 1910 when Sig must decide whether he's going to use it, Revolver makes wonderful use of allusions, foreshadowing and a stark mood to create a wonderfully tense story as Sig contemplates the moral implications of using his father's gun.

Srsly, everyone, I heart it.

That doesn't mean Revolver is perfect. I wasn't too crazy about the flashbacks to 1899 and the omniscent narration that jumped among characters' perspectives all willy-nilly. But still, bravo. I approve.

Dinner Conversation:

"Even the dead tell stories.
Sig looked across the cabin to where his father lay, waiting for him to speak, but his father said nothing, because he was dead. Einar Andersson lay on the table, his arms half raised above his head, his legs slightly bent at the knee, frozen in the position in which they'd found him; out on the lake, lying on the ice, with the dogs waiting patiently in harness." (p. 1)

The smallest word, whcih raises the biggest questions." (p. 3)

"It was at these times that Einar told Sig important things. The things a son should learn from his father. It was at these times that he told him about the gold days, and the gold lust, or about the revolver, which sat in its original box, like a princess's jewels in a case. And Sig, like a good pupil, would listen, always listen, with maybe a rare question now and again.
"A gun is not a weapon," Einar once said to Sig. "It's an answer. It's an answer to the questions life throws at you when there's no one else to help" (p. 8).

"He'd come for the gold, and he hadn't meant to stay.  These things never lasted long, Einar knew.  Just like the Klondike, by the time the rest of the world got to know about the gold, it would be too late; all the best strikes found, the land claimed, the easy pickings gone.  All that would be left would be the struggle to survive in a world of danger, both natural and man-made, with the occasional speck of gold dust coming his way.  Just enough to keep that stupid dream of easy money alive, the dream of fantastic wealth, of ease and luxury and fine things for the rest of his days, but in reality not enough to live on for even a week."  (p. 45)

"Maria woke and propped herself up.  Her movement disturbed Sig, who woke too, to witness one of the few scenes from his early childhood that he would remember forever, and clearly.
He remembered the look on his mother's face as she saw what Einar had bought.  Only many years later would he finally be able to put a word to that look.  Despair.
"What is it?" Anna repeated.  "Is it food?  Is it for when the food runs out?"
"No," Einar muttered.  "It's something else.  For when the faith runs out."  (p. 50).

"He ran out of things to say, and Wolff stayed exactly where he was.
"I don't think you understand.  Since your father is no longer with us, that makes you his heir.
"That means my business is with you."  (p. 83)

Tasty Rating:  !!!!!

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