Ralph Pullins’ debut novel is a work of art. And like all works of art, people will either dismiss it as pretentious, or have something deep within themselves that becomes ignited, or some will not “get it” but still appreciate its wealth of angst, depth, existential life questions, and overall message. No matter their response, like all art, the artist – or in this case the author – will have done his job.
This story is about a lost, self destructive young art school drop out named Chris who is wandering around in life with nothing but his darkness. Fresh out of rehab, he does nothing but think. He is cynical, miserable and like an athlete who can’t play his sport due to an egregious injury, Chris is an artist who can’t art due to whatever injuries plaguing his mind. He can’t create because he can’t see beauty anymore, and whatever is determined to be beautiful by this world, he wants to destroy.
Throughout his tale, he looks for the highs (that don’t involve substance abuse) that take him out of his pit of self pity, for a moment anyway – whether it be through inflicting pain upon himself or breaking things or associating himself with other miserable people or pushing people who care about him away – but he is never quite buying into it. He is so self righteous about the world and those who live in it and then so self destructive and full of crap at the same time that you don’t know whether to slap him or hug him. Because when he’s self righteous, he’s right. And when he’s full of crap, he’s still right.
Ralph writes in stream of consciousness much of the time. Whether it be the thoughts in Chris’ head or the dialogue between characters who have reached a certain level of understanding, it is an interesting peek into the rabbit trails that exist within creative minds. Ralph is a gifted writer and has a real eye for details and expression. The story is edgy and disturbing but the foundation of it is the base of pretty much every human being, no matter how lost one is. Throughout the story, you can see how his encounters with certain beautiful things keeps him tethered to his true nature. When Chris finally has his revelation, brought on by an ancient work of art, he is able to at last accept this simple life truth: It is in the living that we find the beauty and the beauty is in the living.
Outstanding debut. I look forward to reading more works by this author. I highly recommend it.
This book will be released May 17th by Pen Name Publishing.