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The Wait

By: Frank Turner Hollon
Reviewed by: Treasure Ingels-Thompson
MacAdam/Cage Publishing, 2008
$14, Paperback

Frank Turner Hollon’s latest novel, The Wait, is a heartbreaking journey through the life of a single man that explores the shortcomings of humanity as it exposes the inner workings of James Early Winwood’s mind. This cerebral setting is uncomfortable even for Early, yet from the very beginning the entire tale is grounded there. Angsty, angry, confused, and fractured, Early’s mind ticks first like a clock in relatively orderly succession as he processes the questions whose answers define the individual and then like a time bomb as he progresses toward his own destruction, choosing paths, solutions, and alternatives that lead him further into the darkest recesses of human thought.

Early’s life originates in heartache and human error. Aware that catastrophe culminated with his inception, Early makes choices that are informed by the terrible events that punctuate his singular existence. In this, his life seems unique, but as the tale unfolds, the reader finds that looking into Early’s anxious life is a little like looking into a mirror. Early’s life is, honestly, extra ordinary—a human study at its most basic. He lives, he breathes, he eats, he sleeps, and as his life proceeds, Early makes the only decisions available to him.

While a narrative to define human heartache may seem trite and oversimplified, Hollon’s storytelling artistry shines through with each momentous turn. Imbuing Early’s tale with a sense of societal significance, Hollon relates each moment of Early’s life to a phase of cultural awareness. As his American perspective changes, Early becomes increasingly aware that survival equals commitment and the willingness to choose actions with life-altering consequences.

The choices Early makes are scathing expositions of one American mindset. Planning his first shoplifting excursion in his tweenage years seems relatively innocent, a coming of age endeavor, but in adult retrospect Early compares himself and his candy-bar-stealing comrade to "kids making elaborate plans to kill people at school." Like those kids whose place in an otherwise fictional account does not nullify their more significant roles in true world events such as those that unfolded in Columbine, Early and his friends "must have gotten extremely lost."

Hollon connects Early, a fictional narrator, to cultural and social events that resonate in the hearts of his readers. And unabashedly, even in the most horrific, mind boggling moments, Early reaches out to connect with his readers. Hollon’s awareness of social concern and evaluation is astute. Aligning Early with the Trench Coat Mafia players of the too-recent past, Hollon succeeds in creating a hero whose guilt is undeniable and whose innocence is a matter of forgiveness.

Treasure Ingels-Thompson lives and writes in Montevallo.

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