A quote beginning a chapter of this book says it all: “Death is more universal than life; everyone dies but not everyone live.” – A. Sachs. Nearly one year after the loss of his son Joshua, Scott Garland begins the drive from Buffalo, NY to San Diego, CA, leaving his wife and the life he once had behind. The story tells not only of his struggles to come to terms with Joshua’s death, but with the healing process that Scott must experience to reach peace.
Immediately after beginning this book, I sighed to myself. Was I ready for a heart-wrenching novel detailing the grief of a father losing his son? I didn’t think I was. But sitting in the passenger seat with Scott on his coast to coast road trip to find meaning kept me turning the page. I found myself instantly invested in his story. I was saddened by the grief he had to deal with and hopeful that he could come to some sort of resolution.
Along our journeys, Scott and I learned some valuable lessons. We had beers at a run down tavern filled with lost souls that had experienced a tragedy beyond our wildest dreams. We encountered traveling evangelists in a traffic jam who were determined to save our souls. We reached out to a priest for answers, who later showed us that even in the darkest of situations there is a speck of light. Most importantly, we found out what was truly important in our own lives.
I am always a sucker for stories that detail finding true meaning in life. BLIND SPOTgave me more than I expected. It was a powerful piece of fiction with a unique self-help twist. When an author can make their character’s journey your own, the author has graduated to the status of a true craftsman. To quote Earnest Hemmingway:
All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.
Mr. Fazzolari, not only did Scott’s ways change, but mine did too. If nothing more, I recognize some of my own “blind spots.”
When 11-year old Lenore, the child of country girl Daisy goes missing, a small, sleepy Nebraska town jumps to life. Her disappearance ignites controversy that puts the town on the national map. Essie Myles, an octogenarian who writes obituaries for the family’s newspaper, The County Paragraph, perceptively chronicles the events that ensue.
Essie who claims she is “as much a part of the traditions of death as a gilded lily,” and her grandson Doc, who edits the paper are also engaged in the secret printing of the latest book of the young -adult Gothic Miranda-and Desiree novels. As such anyone who works at the press – which includes Daisy – has some access to the long-awaited next book – “The Coffins of Little Hope.”
In this engaging tightly- written book, it is not so much where did the child go as did the child ever exist? There are pros and cons to each side. Doc interviews Daisy who claims an itinerant aerial photographer named Elvis who had been staying at the farm disappeared at the same time as the child. Did he kidnap the child? Each confrontation between Daisy and Doc yields only more questions.
It becomes apparent that this does not seem to be the home of a child. Why doesn’t Lenore have a birth certificate? Why was she never in school? Why is there only one very blurry photo of the child? Why are there no clothes or toys? Is this a hoax or a cruel reality? Is the mother a childless woman inventing a child for attention?
Essie ponders, “Lenore became increasingly difficult to believe in. And those of us who turned skeptical found ourselves wishing Daisy had a least done a better job of inventing a child.”
Yet the longer Lenore is missing the more recognition that comes to the town. The interviews, the national media and a slew of sympathetic followers of Daisy, dubbed the Lenorians, all make for compelling fodder for a town to profit on the miseries of one individual. Many did not want it to end for all the wrong reasons. These guests filled up hotel rooms, ate at local restaurants and increased business in the town. Essie rationalizes, “on this girl we pinned all hopes of our dying towns’ salvation.. She became our leading industry, her sudden nothingness a valuable export… To declare Lenore nonexistent would be to bite the hand that fed us.”
To this end, psychics from as far as Berlin, hypnotists and readers of cracked glass are called in to find the child. Daisy begins a religion of her own and mysteriously begins spreading a copy of the as yet unpublished version of the “Coffins of Little Hope” over CB radio. Did she steal it from the press? Or is it a different version perhaps written by Lenore?
The ideas that drive this story and the originality with which it is executed make this well worth reading. The author subtly reminds us of the fragility of childhood and the vested interests of a dying town to survive - regardless of the truth.
Carlotta Holton is the author of Salem Pact, Touching The Dead,Vampire Resurrection, and Deadly Innocence and is a member of the National Federation of Press Women and an affiliate member of the Horror Writers Association.