Love And Invention
by Benjamin Constable
Release date 10/13/2018
Genre: Literary fiction
Buy the book: NB: the book will be mailed to you from France, but the publisher charges you national fees, as if you were living in France, not international fees! Support this awesome indie publisher!
Discover the author. There’s a lot of extra material about this book on his site: great trailers, excerpts, Q&A
As the book is published by a small press, basically unknown in the US, Words And Peace is really happy to present to you something really unique, a hidden gem. To keep on your list for a special gift to yourself, or to friends!
I discovered Benjamin Constable five years ago with his Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa and really enjoyed his writing style. So when he contacted me a few weeks ago about his upcoming novel, I said yes right away! Love And Invention is set in France like his first book. Even though it’s written in English, it’s published by a small publisher in Avignon, Le Délirium, which is pretty cool – they did a great job with the cover as well, perfect for the book.
Le Délirium also organizes cultural events.
Love and Invention is a beautiful patchwork of genres: fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, young adult.
The chapters go back and forth between the 1930-1940s and the 2010s.
The story is simple: the narrator is in prison and writing a book. The book is about Maleck, 16, who tries to figure out what happened to his grandfather who seemed to have disappeared overnight.
This sounds simple enough. What’s really special with the book lies is the beauty of the prose and in the connections between the peoples and the different narrative levels.
Boy and machine projected shadows down the hill that rippled in the grass and the wind, curious, bustled around them, making the contraption sing with clicks and vibrations – take me with you. Take me with you Abbas Ibn Firnas. We will soar above fields and trees, gliding over villages without a sound, circling on thermals up, across the hills into the next valley, a long way off, high towards the border. No one will see us as we fly Abbas, beyond the reach of guns and soldiers.
I enjoyed so many things in the book:
The background and events related to the German Occupation in France during WWII, especially in the daily life of a little village
The relationships between generations, and the language used by each
The interesting character of Yvette – themes of dreams/regrets, memory or lack of, mixing of present-past
The spot on description of Maleck, with his own dreams and issues related to his age
The creativity displayed by Abbas, named after Abbas ibn Firnas, or Abu al-Qasim Abbas ibn Firnas ibn Wirdas al-Takurini (809–887 A.D.), an incredible Andalusian genius who seems to be the first creator of a flying machine.
The way the three levels of the story are connected
The many references to movies and authors (as one colorful character loves to speak in quotes!) – lists are given at the end of the book
The world of gypsies and circus
All these narrative elements are so masterly intertwined that you feel lifted up as on the wings of a flying machine, and you don’t want to land until you have finished reading the book.
VERDICT: A beautiful hymn to creativity, to the courage to be different, to be oneself while connecting with others.