In and Down

In and Down[Reading] ➺ In and Down By Brett Alexander Savory – Oaklandjobs.co.uk In In and Down Michael and Stephen are young brothers growing up with no female influence in their lives Through their father's emotional absence and abuse they come to believe women do not truly exis In In and Down Michael and Stephen are young brothers growing up with no female influence in their lives Through their father's emotional absence and abuse they come to believe women do not truly exist One of the boys draws into himself looking for answers to the confusion in his life and throughout this descent he experiences his past as though through a distorted carnival mirror When he emerges from his inner journey he is forced to confront a secret that has been buried deep inside for In and PDF/EPUB or over thirty years. In and Down is a curiosity of a book I have been going over how best to describe it Something like The Machinist meets We Need to Talk about Kevin by way of Neco z Alenky's Alice 1988But that doesn't really do it justice It's is the slow transformation and affirmation of a soul via complex symbolic digestion Like digestion it can be inscruitable and revolting as well as inevitable and ultimately satisfying in its catharsisA strange book A little book like a short story that suffered a psychotic fugue state on its way to school and wound up talking to imaginary friends in the attic where it's not entirely sure if it's a ghost haunting itselfI'm somewhat at a loss on how to finish this review And that's a good thing Stephen looks at his brother over their mother’s shoulder while she leans down to attach the bandage to his ear Michael’s looking at him and he’s thinking—and this is one of the clearest thoughts he’s ever had—he’s thinking What’s wrong with me? Why would I do that to you?Once she’s attached the bandage to Stephen’s ear and given him a good strong hug she turns around swivels her head and her eyes find Michael in the cornerShe sees something in his eyes The look she gives him says There’s something rotten inside you I can see it There is something wrong with you You’re a terrible terrible boy and I don’t love you anyThe boys’ father walks in the back door folding and tossing his newspaper on the kitchen table He looks at no oneGrowing up Michael remembers sometimes wondering what it was that their father stuffed into him and his brother what things he crammed into those holes that he dug in them both Standing in that kitchen—the smell of his mother the sad confused eyes of his brother across the room and his father walking through the wreckage as if none of it touched him—Michael realizes that those things his father dug and stuffed into his children were pieces of himselfPieces of himself that he didn’t likeA little bit of The Good Son mixed with a healthy dose of Memento and a pseudo personality swapping structure that in some ways echoes Lynch’s Lost Highway Brett Alexander Savory’s In and Down is a narrative matryoshka painted with a twisted grime drenched carnival aesthetic It’s about learned hatred assumed blame the misconceptions and cruelties of childhood and the many often dangerous ways siblings target and wound one anotherStephen and Michael are brothers—Stephen being the eldest and Michael the story’s focus Michael is in many ways a delicate boy He is freuently picked on by Stephen sees his father as a rough guttural example of a man who’s personality is a toxic mess of racism and neglect and is investigating the whys and wherefores of his mother’s disappearanceIn searching for his mother and by result his sense of self and place among things Michael discovers a letter written by her detailing her reasons for leaving—because of the unease she felt living with one of the two boys Michael’s search for answers uickly intensifies leading him into a lucid dream state where he encounters Hob a guide or ringmaster of sorts for the carnival of Michael’s mind Dressed in a green suit and purple top hat Hob opens the door for Michael starting him on a journey to the very centre of his being As Michael travels deeper into his dream and with greater freuency he meets an assortment of characters like Marla Smithy and Crimley each representative of another aspect of the journey such as the construct of the ideal womanmother carved from a block of wood and personalized or the permanent mask worn to shield one from the hideousness of selfIn and Down is not a book you read once Savory has gone to great trouble to give each and every character a sense of physicality and of purpose—even if that purpose is at first obscured From the dead dogs buried in Michael and Stephen’s backyard to their father’s obvious racism and the slow steady descent into the dream carnival’s freak show—and by proxy the rotten core of Michael and possibly Stephen—In and Down is about a slow peeling back of the layers like a hangnail that when tugged tears a long strip of skin up the side of one’s fingerMichael is in many ways an unreliable narrator We can’t trust him because he doesn’t truly know himself The sense of discovery in In and Down is richly apparent in the bleeding of realities via Michael’s dream descent And as the elevator gets closer and closer to the bottom and the carnival is inundated and with freak show attractions clowns and single serving acuaintances Michael comes closer to learning the truths about his mother’s disappearance and his difficult relationship with his father and brother Nowhere is this unsettling sense of discovery obvious than when a clown drapes a blanket over Michael and “he closes his eyes sucks the heat into himself Buries his face in the fabric of the blanket and inhales“It smells like makeup and dirt”Without spoiling certain late novel events I began to ponder part way through the narrative if ever there were two brothers or if there had only ever been one and the trip through the carnivalesue nightmare world was in fact a slow motion psychological break—one child feeling responsible for the disappearance of a parent and needing something to blame and crafting that something into the body and mind of a brother that never existed in the first placeI wish I could say I felt with total confidence that this was the case but as previously mentioned and than any book I’ve read in recent months I think I need to start back at the beginning and give In and Down a second readSavory’s story is not difficult nor is it convoluted but it’s easy to slide down the mountain of vivid imagery with too many fucking clowns for comfort without giving it too much thought at first only to look behind after the fact and realize what it was that had just been revealed Michael and Stephen are believable as children—their voices feel authentic without being “written down to” And the sporadic use of images and illustrations such as dirty handwritten notes add emphasis and an air of the macabre without disrupting the narrative flowI was pleasantly surprised by In and Down and how it not only subverted expectations as I was reading it but has continued to change in my mind as I’ve taken the time to really think about it in the days since finishing It’s an unsettling look at the lives of children and siblings and of memory and assumption and it is not to be breezed through lightly Take your time with this one Pick it apart—you’ll be glad you did What a strange story It made me so uncomfortable to read in the best way I loved Savory's descriptions and thought having young Michael as the narrator really upped the creep factor This novel kept me so engrossed in discovering the reasons behind Michael's mother leaving and decripting the relationship between the brothers and their father that I continued to read well into the night And the flies oh the flies They were the best So gross and creepy I loved it The writing was beautiful and very descriptive The part where this novel lost me however was the last 30 pages or so I felt like Michael's journey in the dream world dragged for too long and I didn't like the twist at the end it totally threw me in a very jarring way That said I am very interested in reading from this author This book is perfect for fans of The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus mixed with a horror version of Inception If Alice had been a boy – and her life a complete mess – then her journey through Wonderland might have been uite similar to In and Down by Brett Alexander Savory You might have found the work of Lewis Caroll somewhat creepy if not read again the part when a hideous Duchess nurses a piglet while her cook throws dishes at their face for no apparent reason but wait till you get into eleven years old Michael's head he doesn't have a mother he almost drowned once his brother plays vicious and life threatening pranks on him his father is some rude neglectful fly eater and finally his inner world is a vast nightmareI'm not coming home tonight The boy makes me uneasy You love him I can'tThose are the words of a letter signed by the mother of Michael and his brother Stephen Mother They didn't know they had a mother Actually they didn't know women existed at all When Michael finds this message it triggers the beginning of a strange and scary journey into himself The novel switches constantly between memories of Michael's childhood and his adventure in his horrific inner world which encourages the reader to try to piece the facts togetherMichael's world – what I love most about this book – is surreal and often absurd in the same way Alice in Wonderland is except it's also dark and frankly disturbing It is centred on a derelict carnival with a single ferris wheel spinning empty wagons by itself people walking rotten animals on leash dead mimes attached to poles for belly poking and pig shaped balloons with X where their eyes should be The typical carnival reallyThis carnival is like the one to which the boy's father takes them The kind of carnival where the farther in you go the you feel like you're sinking into the ground Reality falls away as lights and the motions and the noises blend into a downward spiral where you forget your name forget what the outside world is likeBut nothing is uite random this world is a distorted reflection of Michael's life and his relatives For example in his first “dreams” he meets a mysterious young woman the only woman in the carnival his “chance to find someone who loves him properly” Most of his self exploration is then motivated by the hope of finding her again Simultaneously in real life he's trying to find letters from his motherHowever the expedition only gets darker scarier and claustrophobic as Michael gets deeper in himself and slowly realizes he has no control over his life He's not even sure who he really is Everything sneaks away from him or dies As memories about his family come back in flashes his inner world becomes macabre and threateningThe boy is allowed to feel angry at everything that has happened at everything that he has had no control over The fact that no one is as they appear to be that they are just actors that his life and his feelings have been scripted from the beginning of his memory that has been plotted out by a creator who has forgotten him or at the very best doesn't care about his life his happinessFinally I must say I really enjoyed the few illustrations in the book They really strengthen the atmosphere of the bookI loved In and Down's originality and unpredictability It features a fascinating frightening and vivid world entirely based on a little boy's traumas which makes it even terrifying I really enjoyed how Michael's exploration slowly reveal elements of his real life sometimes clearly sometimes in a symbolic way and how his inner world mutates as he gets closer to the horrendous truth You should really read In and Down if you're seeking a gripping smart horror novel that is definitely out of the ordinary This isn't a book I would normally read but I tend to now run in the same circles as the author and bought this book when we were in side by side booths selling our waresI rode this novel like a rollercoaster I truly enjoyed the first half even though it felt much like a good portion of it was dream seuence a writing trick I despise Then the dream seuence part seemed to take over and I found I wasn't enjoying the story as much even though I realized it was less dream and Alice in Wonderland albeit through the twisted mind of the authorIn fact after going through a series of scenes with to come where it seemed the protagonist was of a pinball pinging from place to place meeting different people for no apparent reason there was a uote that I flagged from the book that at that particular moment seemed to echo my state of mind Michael doesn't have the patience for these kinds of conversations anyHowever within a few pages of that uote the novel seemed to course correct and I enjoyed it again I didn't think the revelations at the end were earth shattering but they were logical and I saw the work the author put into building to these points I guess sometimes you just need to see the whole to appreciate the parts along the way There's a part of me that still believes this might have been better as a shorter novella but overall with the Alice in Wonderland overtones and the David Lynchian undertones it's absolutely worth the read I think I may have to read it againBut first impressionSavory touches on most of the memes of dark fantasy or urban fantasy including a child's response to Big Themes like death murder and family loyalty The plot is simple a young boy's journey through a carnival like world in search of what he sees as the one person who will love him Possibly his mother It's hard to tellWhile the events of the story can be muddled and confusing Savory's assured lyrical prose keeps it on track and guides the reader through the journey with each revelation stranger than the last My first instinct of course is to psycho analyze its Oedipal tone the Hero's Journey what the author meant by it allBut in the best tradition of twisted fantasy sometimes it's better to enjoy the mood knowing the conclusion will take you somewhere What I took from the story whether I got it or not was a response to other writers' creation of childhood as idyllic where heroes always win and the children are safe at the end Savory turns this on its ear by creating a truthful portrait of childhood as loaded with danger and threat The ones who are supposed to love you will be the biggest danger to you the book seems to say and there may not be a happy ending Brett Savory’s In and Down is a truly horrifying novel not necessarily because of the haunting images of bodies clowns and flies but because it reminds the reader about the fluidity of identity – that we are not fixed unchanging things but are rather constantly changing malleable and the core of our being is not uniue or sacrosanct In a world that focusses on the uniueness of individuals and the rights of personal freedom Savory uestions the idea that there is even a “personal” let alone freedomIf you are interested in a larger review you can check it out on my website My rule of thumb for what makes a horror novel is if the protagonist loses something significant then it's horror if not it's a novel with horrific elements So by that rule In and Down is definitely a horror novel but horror isn't the emotion that it brings out in me it's despair and sympathyKinda like one of those autobiographies filled with tragedy except it's fictional and has supernatural elements to itVery different Like many others who reviewed this book I had to read it than once and it was SO worth it every time I'm not usually a horror reader so this was definitely an out of my comfort zone kind of book But the writing is just beautiful the images are dark and disturbing but somehow still lovely I loved the voice of the boy and his perspective is spot on Even though I read this book uite a while ago I still remember many scenes uite vividly I have no idea what happened in this novel or what it's trying to say but it is one of the most compelling things I have read in a while It reminds me of Southland Tales or Mulholland Dr you're not uite sure what the pieces add up to but you are pulled along on a ride through some really disuieting horrific placesI will be reading this one again

In and Down MOBI Á In and  PDF/EPUB or Paperback
  • Paperback
  • 224 pages
  • In and Down
  • Brett Alexander Savory
  • English
  • 22 August 2016
  • 9781897142264