I’m not relentless. “Relentless” makes it sound like there’s something called “relent” and that I’m lacking it. In that sense, I’m not relentless, but perhaps I’m unrelenting. I could relent if I wanted to. But he always has to die. I mean “always” in two senses: at all times and all of the time. I can’t kill him all of the time.
That would take too long. But all of the times I did, I did. I’d do it again. I could relent if I wanted to, but instead I’d do it again. If he’s different, then he’s the same and if he’s the same, he’s got to go. And If he were different and not the same, then there would be two things and I’d only have to kill one of them. If only I only had to kill one of him. What a life I would live, if only I only had to kill him the one time. But death doesn’t always do him in.
Title: Hexis | Author: Charlene Elsby | Publisher: Clash Books | Pub. Date: 04 February 2020 | Pages: 150 | ISBN: 9781944866525 | Genre: Speculative Fiction | Language: English | Source: Received a copy from author for review consideration | Starred Review
About 20 years ago, I read Milan Kundera’s Unbearable Lightness of Being for an upper level English major course. It came on the heels of Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak, and I felt like I was wrapped in a whirlwind. Zhivago is a dense Russian novel of love and loss. Kundera’s book is lighter in terms of length but is mentally heavy. Why this trip down memory lane? Charlene Elsby’s debut novella, Hexis, is as dense and heavy as both Pasternak and Kundera’s books. It’s a head trip of love, loss, hatred, and murder.
Like a fellow book lover, I too am at a loss to explain this book. You can check out Diamond’s review here. The most basic premise of the book is that we are in the head of a woman for whom time is fluid. She meets and re-meets a lover (or a former lover; I am still thinking about this), and, as the synopsis mentions, kills him. Over and over again. I cannot share too much more of the plot both because I am still digesting it and you just need to experience this one for yourself. I don’t think I CAN tell you what it’s about in an absolute sense.
There are times in this book when it felt like Elsby was in my head. At one point the main character mentions driving by her old lover’s house and so on, and I absolutely remember doing something similar. There are other moments in which the stream of consciousness felt like it could be my own and I think other readers might feel like this as well. Elsby plucks intangible thoughts from the air and makes them real. Perhaps this is why it is still so hard for me to grasp and hold on to more tangible feelings.
Give this book a try. Let go of the need to understand everything with exacting detail. I do know two things. This book was a philosophical experience and I need more from Charlene Elsby.
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Tracy joined Sc-Fi and Scary in September 2018. She reviews horror books for the site and bemoans our general lack of grammar, but puts up with us because she loves us anyway. Feel free to reach out on Twitter and Instagram at @tracy_reads79, or on Goodreads as well!
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