The Value of Broken Dreams

Today we have something extra-special for you…. no, it’s not another video of Judi Dench in a compromising position with a donkey, but a collaborative book review written by the enigmatic Tim Smyth, the charismatic Sam Coll and the frankly mysterious person known only as Chris. We havn’t heard of either the book or its author – in fact, it’s a little questionable as to whether they even exist at all – but here you go, a review of The Value of Broken Dreams by Declan Philips.

The Value of Broken Dreams – Declan Philips

Emerging writer Declan Philips’s debut novel is a timeless meditation on grieving and loss.  An evocative tale of the coming-of-age of one talented young man, it combines elements of both the epicaresque romance and the bildungsroman.  In fluvial phrasing and cadenced, clositral prose, almost excessively brilliant in its lapidary qualities, Phillips lays bare a soul which aches with the longing for immeasurables.  In some ways it is a mad book, but then again in some ways its character is a mad man, and what arrests the reader time and time again is the intensity of the author’s passion and the gimlet gaze of his scrutiny.  This is a book about now, and the light it shines on the experiences of our time will never dim.  If the writer of this almost excessively brilliant novel continues on this trajectory, he may yet make great literature possible again: certainly, his import seeps from the page.  The pace of his narrative is frenetic, but never rushed: Philips will not let you pause, but nor will he let you miss a beat.  Contrary energies find their confluence in a literary soul of some magnitude.  Phillips a liminal space located betweent he almost excessive brilliance of his great Russian forebears and the immediacy of a De Lilllo or a Marquez.  His senses evoking the torrid encounter between Astrid and the eponymous hero and its groggy aftermath reach the reader through a language of terse and unadorned simplicity and beauty (‘Sometimes when I stared at the wall it seemed to be staring back at me.  But maybe it just seemed that way’).  The supple poise of his prose-rhythms, the earthy undulations of his style, and the thick, rich texture of his prose are like hits of some delicious aphrodisiac.  This is a novel to fall in love with.  Lyrical, free-flowing, immeasurably moving, this is genuine literature by a writer who announces himself here as a craftsman approaching the summit of his powers.


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