I starting reading Paul Harding’s Enon and just…hit a wall of grief. I knew it was a story of a father whose life spins out of control after the death of his teenaged daughter. I knew that. I’ve read books like that before…in fact, some say that I’m drawn to them. That they form a bit of a shaky talisman I use to ward off even thinking “what if…?” So I thought I’d be good. The book would either be well written, or it wouldn’t. I would like it, or I would not. So I picked it up.
Guys, let me tell you something – Paul Harding can write. Everything felt so real. The days he created, the reality of a parent caring for a child, the house and the scenes of, you know, living – it didn’t feel like I was reading. Which is maybe why I couldn’t read the story. I couldn’t handle the father’s grief, the idea of the child’s death, any of it. It felt too real. I couldn’t imagine investing all of that time, all of that love, enjoying my daughters for another 4 or 6 years, when you start thinking of them as “safe” and then having them ripped away. It had happened to him, hadn’t it? Wasn’t he losing his mind? Wasn’t he where I would be? I could picture all too well the thought that if it could happen to him, why not me? Who’s to say I would be safe?
And by god, the character’s grief seemed so real. That kind of writing is a gift; it felt less like writing and more like translating perfectly that which we feel and think in our heads onto paper. And anyone who thinks lightly of that kind of magic hasn’t tried writing anything. (Or reading much, either, in my opinion.)
It was all too much. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t finish the book. The weight, the burden, the depression…I couldn’t carry that around for “fun.”
Write something else, Paul Harding. I want to read more of your stories, fall into more of your worlds. Just not one that destroys mine so thoroughly.