Saturday, December 10, 2011

Feather By David Rix

Feather is an intricate latticework of nine separate novellas introducing the reader to an original form of storytelling. Set against the backdrop of ocean and sea, David Rix introduces us to his dark and often complicated muse: Feather the wandering girl – an orphaned eccentric who embodies the nomadic spirit. Someone who flits into people’s lives, touches them with magic, and ultimately flits away again … often leaving battered souls in her wake. 

With the opening novella, Yellow Eyes, Rix gives us perfect overture for this atypical protagonist: the story of a childhood spent living on the outskirts of a haunted wasteland (her only company that of a domineering Father), one who has escaped the modern world and deprived Feather a normal life in the process. After escaping this bleak environment, Feather returns to the only world she knows intimately: sand and sea. Here she meets Jimmy Ward, and a close attachment ensues. (The prose here is often littered with bullet-pointed snippets of signs and revelations that give insight into both character's – an unusual form of pacing).

Touch Wood sees the character of Feather shifting into lives in the modern world. Always told from another central character, Touch Wood a small narrative of love espoused in a bar. Although it features a highly unlikable protagonist, it’s blended with both the spiritual and philosophical: the study of particle physics and their relation to the world of being human. 

A central and larger novella, The Magpies introduces us to another character on Feather’s periphery … one who lives in isolation in the Southern European Mountains – a locale where she hopes to find a musical muse. After discovering a dead Magpie on the front stoop, it sends off a chain reaction of feathered ghosts and macabre scenery, ushering her into a confrontation with the muse.

In Book Of Tides Feather again returns to the sea and meets another unlikely male companion: a ghost writer who sees every tale in the next tide. With Feather’s arrival, it brings in a story of death – one forcing her to ultimately leave again with a dawning knowledge stories themselves are the enemy.

Another long novella, To call the Sea opens the curtain to Feather attending College. Another rag-tag cast is assembled, a hundred different artistic outlooks – each one like a moon to Feather’s Jupiter. Abruptly normal college life bursts into an alternate dimension … one like a portal into that strange sea-world Feather inhabits. It's a confusing climax – you never know whether to feel palpably perplexed or just enchanted. As a collective whole, the tales seem like an epic vehicle for the author’s syntax.

It’s the final stories, however, that are crowing jewels.  Displaying a less cerebral style which still showcases a sharp sting, we follow Tallis through the streets of LjubLjana. These are bleak and functional spaces ... one that may remind a reader of Clive Barker's early stylings traversing the streets of Liverpool.

Overall Feather is like one of the more slipstream stories one might encounter in high-school, yet bristling at the seams with unconventional horror. It's a book that potentially serves as a strange metaphor for the author's personal character ... at turns both mythic and seductive.