Sunday, April 6, 2014

Rerun: Accepting Your Fate

If you could see into the future or the past, what would you do with that information? What kind of burden would the visions impose on your life? Would you accept the fate you’ve seen or would you seek to change it? These are some of the questions raised by the premise of Rerun by Chris Manteria. The story concept is a great idea for fiction and the execution is good for an author’s first foray into novel writing. There are a few setbacks that keep it from being an excellent novel.
The novel follows Charles, a young man in New York City who experiences glimpses of events that are yet to come and sometimes events of the past. The explanation for why he has this ability is not given sufficient power, to be honest. The logic behind it doesn’t make a great deal of sense but the author sticks with it. As a character, Charles is relatable at times, due in no small part to Manteria doing a good job conveying the mental toll these visions have on him. Charles is still rather wooden at times. There were occasions that I just didn’t care about his ultimate fate but the story’s forward momentum kept my attention. The same could be said of Jennifer, the love interest of the story, who only has a few facets of personality despite having an intriguing, heart-breaking backstory.
One of the reasons for the fatigue I mentioned above is the use of superfluous detail. I think this has more to do with Manteria being a first-time novelist than anything else. There are numerous instances of unnecessary detail provided to the reader, from how dinner is eaten to the morning rituals we all go through. I’ve used this idiom before and I believe it applies here specifically. Sentences should do one of two things in a story: reveal character or move the story forward. Too much of the details presented by Manteria are mundane and gratuitous. If Charles were a nitpicky, detail-oriented type of character, such descriptiveness would reveal that personality trait. As an example, in American Psycho Ellis uses the shallow descriptions of clothing labels to reveal the interchangeable nature of identity and Bateman’s complete lack of connective empathy.
Not all of the descriptions are disposable, though. Manteria relates Charles’s visions in sumptuous detail. There are moments of pure surrealism to the visions. It’s as if Charles were a part of some vivid, hyper-real landscape. These moments allow Manteria’s gift as a writer stand out. The author, who lives in New York City, uses descriptions of his hometown well. I felt like I was in the middle of the Big Apple’s muck and grime almost from page one.

Manteria has some kinks to work out in his writing style. A better ear for natural dialogue, an eye for necessary, character-building detail, and a firmer characterization style are some I’ve earmarked. He possesses a great deal of raw talent as well, and that will come out as he continues in his career. I would advise anyone reading this review (including the author) to take what I say with a grain of salt. I encourage people to buy this book. I enthusiastically encourage Chris Manteria to continue writing and publishing. This is an excellent writer just waiting to burst through. 

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