(Trigger Warning – Suicide)
The title of this novel is a play on the classic phrase “Where Reason Ends Faith Begins”, a phrase in which I’ve always found rather shallow. I am not really a person of faith, and I have a pretty literal mind with most things (though I do love fantasy and science fiction). And so when I think about what faith must stand for in my own mind, I think more simply of how time softens, resilience and selfhood, and self-preservation, and who knows, something we might call biological imperative allow us to carry on. But these are also clearly too easy to say if you’re not someone who has suicide in their vocabulary. In my experience, life goes on, because that’s what it does.
In this novel though, it’s more complicated. The whole of this novel is an ongoing conversation between a middle-aged mother and her teenage son, who died by suicide some time earlier. It seems most likely to be happening entirely in her mind, but the writing is more ethereal and flighty and avoids a clear explanation. Instead we are treated to a novel’s (a very short novel, however) set of musing, language play, references to the touchstones of their life together and the various other parts that exist in the spaces of their life together now that he’s gone. This novel though is not as heavy as all that sounds — it IS very heavy, but it’s not so torturous as all that. There are other novels like that if you want — Laura van den Berg’s The Third Hotel for example.
This novel does feel like a too brief glimpse.