A dark and riveting journey of one man in a broken world
With nothing left to lose, Nathan Soderquist is moving west; his wife is dead, his infant daughter too, all because of a kiss and a snowstorm and his failure to prevent distant consequences. In his desperate isolation, he commits acts of violence, cowardice, nobility, and bravery as he passes through vacant landscapes and encounters beguiling characters. A road accident leaves his body broken, and his convalescence plumbs the depths of addiction. Relentless in his need to bridge epic distances, his journey moves from car to bicycle to foot as his anger grows, spurring a desire for revenge. Ultimately, a midnight confrontation spirals out of control, and from its extraordinary violence Nathan is presented with two final paths: one ends in destruction; the other could lead to redemption.
Written in taut, muscular prose and punctuated by brief poetic journal entries that document the ever–changing sky, Panhuyzen’s debut novel recounts one man’s story in a world revved with suspense and alive with wonder.
The tragic loss of his wife and infant daughter sends Nathan Soderquist on a journey to the West. Nathan's better instincts and the distractions of Canada's majestic vistas too often prove unequal to his anger need for revenge. He soon finds himself dodging the police on his journey. What should have been a quest for healing transformation goes awry very early on, sending Nathan on an accelerating arc toward a brutal conclusion, yet despite his self-destructive urges, hope for redemption remains. Troubled voyages, grand tableaus, and personal transformations feature in Canadian narratives from the days of the voyageurs to Neal Peart's moving Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road; by choosing that frame for his story, Panhuyzen (The Death of the Moon) embraces a long-standing Canadian tradition. Panhuyzen's intricate mastery of words contrasts with his protagonist's inability to master himself. The author demonstrates a remarkable talent in search of nuance; despite a tendency to reduce women to victims, hostages, and prizes, and a fondness for nigh-Chandleresque violence to motivate the plot, there is enough promise here to warrant close attention.
Emotional, sometimes bleak, but always riveting.
The Sky Manifest hooked me quickly and I enjoyed the journey through the book much as the protagonist journeyed across Canada and down through the United States, seeking either destruction or redemption from a prior tragedy in his life, all the while keeping a written diary of the sky and how it appears to him as he wends his way from situation to situation.
At times hilarious, but more frequently heart-wrenching, I quite enjoyed the emotional ride and would recommend the book to others.