“Head of Words” – by Chris Ward

Cover ImageWith thirteen in a single bedroom apartment things can get a little cozy, especially when each resident has a decidedly singular character. But this suits Dan just fine – that is, until a crisis leaves him bewildered and alone.

Head of Words is a novel of two fairly distinct parts. First, is the “before” or “leading up to” half and the second is the “after” or “fall-out” half.

Dan lives in a one bedroom apartment with a total of thirteen residents – twelve people and one dog. This bizarre living arrangement is broken down by the author into a series of small vignettes describing the arrival of each into these cramped quarters. In parallel, the time-line inches forward in the present, with rising tensions an omen of impending crisis within the apartment.

The co-tenants consist of such a diverse group of personalities and each of their entrances into Dan’s life and apartment are recounted, sometimes to hilarious effect. I was happily trapped within the cacophony, but wondered what form the coming crisis would take. I was delivered – an event.

After this event, Dan finds himself alone, having lost his friends; his apartment no longer a haven. It is at this point that Dan’s mystery begins as he searches for his friends and tries to avoid a mysterious and threatening stranger.

I really enjoyed the plot for this novel, and I appreciated the rather drastic change in mood in the second half. The laugh-out-loud scenes in the book, help give the jagged transition into darkness more impact. I admit that I was enjoying the vignettes so much that I failed to notice the significance underlying the story, which made the journey all the more fascinating for me.

It’s hard to really give the space required to illuminate the eccentric characters that make up this story, but in the centre is Dan. It’s his apartment and he tends to keep the different personalities around him in line. He comes across as an affable, submissive and broke adult who is failing his way through life. A dramatic scene has estranged him from his parents and the only real support he has (although not really financial) is from his friends.

It’s hard to really like Dan. He’s a bit of a nothing character who’s only real interest to the reader is the company he keeps. But, I believe this is the point of his portrayal. He is the most lifeless and yet most vital part of the group. As he’s falling, the reader feels an overwhelming sense of inevitability with rock bottom being the only possible destination.

I have previously read The Tube Riders by this author and reviewed it favourably (review here). This book is decidedly different, but equally enjoyable.

If you like the idea of lively series of vignettes with eccentric characters devolving into a personal descent into darkness, I can definitely recommend this novel. I know it’s a fairly unusual construction, but I believe that it works well.

Rating: 4/5

Price at the time of review: $3.99 US

Available: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Kobo, Diesel, iTunes and more…

Author site: http://amillionmilesfromanywhere.blogspot.jp/
GoodReads page: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17792976-head-of-words

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