Sound, Paperback
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


Set on the Jersey Shore over the course of one long summer, "Sound" is the story of Cincy, a young man who returns, somewhat reluctantly, to his childhood town and takes up a job as a boatyard manager.

The town is saturated with nostalgia and melancholy for Cincy, and as he attempts to oversee the eclectic employees at the boatyard, he struggles to find meaning in a place that seems only to offer mundanity ...until one evening he meets Vera and his purpose becomes clear.

A poignant love affair with an incredibly atmospheric setting, Cincy's search for meaning and his battle to get the girl are brilliantly evoked using the form of a musical score, with the reader 'hearing' the book as it is read: dialogue, thought, heartbeats and a hip-hop soundtrack are layered throughout the pages.

A haunting and emotive story, enriched by a highly unusual new form, "Sound" rings out with simple, understated clarity.

It is a wildly imaginative and inventive debut.




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I read this on the basis of a newspaper review and at first sight I was bitterly disappointed. It is really quite hard to read because of the author's attempts to capture the ambient sound of everyday life by printing large parts (almost all conversation, for instance) on staves, so you have more than one thing happening simultaneously. But it grew on me quickly, at least in part because the experimental sections are threaded through with some wonderfully lyrical passages describing the locality. The real downside for me was the ultra-hip characterisation, which grates like a hipster version of didactic socialist realism (though I suppose from the POV of the middle-class-background narrator of the novel, slumming-it for a gap year, that is the way they appear). But it isn't just subjective - apart from the cops and the crook (it has a thriller and a love story woven through it) everyone is way too nice for real. Still, I loved it for the lyricism: the real love affair in here is the author's ecstatically sensual celebration of the urban fabric and cultureof the (New) Jersey shoreline (much of it presumably swept away by storms not long after the book was published).