I read Christian Kiefer’s The Animals last year and loved it. So, I was happy to be sent a copy of his new novella. I didn’t expect it to be just like his previous work, but I also wasn’t expecting it to be so completely different. In fact, it’s completely different from anything I have read before.
Kiefer’s novella is written as a documentary in prose form, and it is absolutely convincing. You can picture the scenes changing, the film crackling, the photographs drifting by as the voices in the background talk in snippets about their lives. In this case, about Frank Poole’s life, the artist.
Frank’s art is about stopping time, keeping hold of that one perfect moment. He is in the middle of his biggest project yet; a suburb built using all white materials and sealed off from the world. But, he’s so wrapped up in his project that it’s hard for him to pay attention to the other things going on in his life. Like his wife and her pregnancy.
[Frank] “There’s just nothing better than that moment. It’s perfect. It really is. Nothing can go wrong. Nothing can get f**ked up or hurt or anything. It’s just perfect for that one instance before anything happens. And then time. And everything to come after.”
Caitlin met Frank while still in High School, and ended up giving up pursuing her own dreams to marry him and be a part of his. But, now she is pregnant and Frank is distant, intent on his art. He seems content to let Caitlin take care of this new ‘event’ like she does everything else in his life. Yet, really, I think Frank is trying to get his head around the idea of being a parent; especially in perspective to the experience he had with his own parents. The documentary within the book captures this interplay between the two as they figure things out, while also flashing back in time to Frank’s childhood.
[Caitlin] “You know, I’ve been married to him for coming up on twelve years and sometimes I still don’t know what he’s thinking.”
Why is he so interested in the concept of stopping time? Does it have something to do with his past? Maybe we are not supposed to know; maybe there’s no answer. I will admit here that I think some of this book might have been too smart for me; gone right over my head.
Tick tick tick and the whole thing effluxes to the next moment. Even now, every word you read is time you will never recall from the funnel. And so elabe. And so lapse. And so the run and the roll and the sleve. The whole of it flits away.
So, I will leave you with links to a few reviews that seem to have it figured out better than I have. But, do pick the book up yourself if you get a chance – it’s so well crafted, and I’d love to know what you think!
Kirkus Reviews: “What begins as a lyrical prose poem about the creative process quickly knots into a layered narrative about love, family, art, missed chances, and how we constantly write and rewrite the stories of our lives.”
Publishers Weekly: “Though housed inside a tiny package, this curiously engaging meditation on art, love, and time packs a wallop.”
River City Reading: “… what I appreciate most about One Day Soon… is how wildly different it is from its predecessor.”
Outlandish Lit: “The experimental format and Kiefer’s beautiful writing lend to some really visual scenes that show us important things about their relationship and Frank’s worsening struggle with his project and life.”
Lipstick & Libraries: “While the story itself is compelling and thoughtful, I found the real allure of the book to be the way it’s told. The documentary format allows us to travel to places a traditional narrative would not let us, flashing between past and present with dizzying speed.”
32 thoughts on “One Day Soon Time Will Have No Place Left To Hide by Christian Kiefer”
Sounds intriguing! I’d be interested to see how a documentary in prose form would work. I’ll look out for this 🙂
It was definitely different from anything I’ve read before. I really felt like I was watching a documentary.
This sounds an interesting, head-scratching kind of book.
Head-scratching is a good word for it. I thought it was very artistic, which is a huge compliment, I think, but sometimes leaves me feeling like some of it went right over my head. 🙂
Wow what a fascinating format! Definitely intrigued by how this mode inhances or challenges the story, I hadn’t heard of this author before.
I read The Animals last year, even though it’s not usually the type of book I go for, and ended up loving it! I think there is still one more book by him I haven’t read – maybe I’ll get to that one too, sometime!
I love watching documentaries but I can’t decide if this would be awesome to read in this format or if it would drive me mental. I guess it is a novella so maybe it’s the perfect length to experiment with. I’m intrigued anyway!
Novella is the perfect length for this – long enough to experiment, but not so long that it’s too much. I still think I prefer to watch a documentary, but that’s partly because they’re real, and this one is fictional. (I had to keep reminding myself that it was fictional, though.)
Aaah – this has been sitting on my dining room table forever! I need to give it a shot…although I suspect it might be too smart for me too 🙂 I did love The Animals.
It’s good for us to read something over our head from time to time, isn’t it? 😉
I remember Shannon mentioning this. I, too, loved The Animals, so I’m keen to read his other novel and this novella. It sure sounds intriguing!
It’s so different from The Animals, but he is an excellent writer. Hopefully I’ll get to read his first book sometime!
Oooh, this sounds rather good. I love the cover, too, though u know you shouldn’t judge etc etc
The whole book is very cute; it’s tiny and white. 🙂
Thanks for looking at it, Naomi! And glad you liked it too. I’m tempted to comment on why Frank’s obsessed with time in his projects, but I think it best that I leave that to your imagination. Wheeeee!
Agh! You mean you could ease my mind, but will not do it? 😉
I do have my ideas, but I always like to know what the author is thinking!
Thanks for sending me the book! I hope you are happily writing another. 🙂
Just turned in my 1711 page new manuscript to my agent! It’s a big ‘un!
It sounds — like it is maybe what my friend Simon calls too experimental for its boots. :p I always struggle to know what to do with books like this, because I sometimes looooove weird books like this and other times absolutely cannot be bothered with them.
I think, in this case, it’s really well done. But it is probably good that it’s novella length. Short stories are good for that, too! It’s fun to see what writers can do, but they often turn out to be big ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ books.
Must admit, doesn’t sound as if it would work for me. If I had to look up three words in every paragraph, I’d be screaming with frustration. I do like when people use uncommon words, but with restraint… but then, I’m a lazy reader.
That doesn’t happen through the whole book, but that was the point I got to when I started to wonder if I was smart enough to read this book. 🙂
I identified with the quotation about not knowing what your husband’s thinking! Comin up on 9 years here. 🙂 This sounds like a really interesting novella. I love the white on white cover.
Maybe we can all identify with that quote. In fact, maybe the more time that goes by, the more it’s true! ha!
This sounds fantastic (and my husband is a documentary filmmaker, so now I want him to read it too!)—I’m totally intrigued by the format and the art the main character is making.
Yay! I forgot about your husband’s work. If he reads it, I would love to know what he thinks! You too, of course. 😉
This sounds like such an interesting premise and structure! I do love ‘experimental’ formats though some I’ve been too scared to handle so far (The House of Leaves comes to mind, that book is mammoth). This novella though may be a great segway however 🙂
Sometimes it’s better for experimental books to be shorter. Just in case… 🙂
I’ve been intrigued by this book from the moment I saw the cover, so I’m excited to hear that everyone is enjoying it! Sounds like I need to pick this up 🙂
I’d love to hear what your thoughts on it!
Holy smokes, I didn’t realize he’d already written another book. I still haven’t gotten to The Animals yet. I admit that his first one sounds more up my alley then this latter one. but who knows.
This one is very short – a novella. So, maybe that’s why he was so quick getting it out. I asked him if he was working on another, and he said he’s got a chunkster in the works this time. So, here’s your chance to catch up!