Title: The Illusion of Separateness
Author: Simon Van Booy
Genre: Contemporary Fiction; Literary Fiction
Source: Review copy from publisher
Through interwoven stories spanning across two continents from 1944 to 2010, The Illusion of Separateness tells the stories of Martin, a caretaker at a nursing home; Mr. Hugo, its newest resident; Danny, the boy Mr. Hugo once befriended; John, a pilot in WWII; his blind granddaughter, Amelia; and Sebastian, the boy who found John’s airplane after it crashed.
I adored Simon Van Booy’s short stories in Love Begins in Winter. His novel, Everything Beautiful Began After, pretty much destroyed me. And Van Booy has created something magical once again.
While the idea of separate stories that all touch one another is not a new one, Van Booy seems to hit on just the right balance of short story vs novel in this one. I was attached to the characters, who were given the chance to be both complex and sympathetic, but I still got a chance to hear many different stories.
Van Booy’s writing is as gorgeous as always and the way these stories comes full circle is devastatingly beautiful. If you’ve not read anything of his yet, you must remedy that as soon as possible. He easily makes my list of favorite authors.
And now, since Ben actually read this before I did, I thought I’d let him share his thoughts with you.
While everything that Simon Van Booy writes is magic, he is at his best writing short stories. While his novel Everything Beautiful Began After was excellent, it did not impact me the way his short stories do. Here, he returns to that format with magnificent results. Though the characters and stories stay throughout the whole book, they are told in a non-linear fashion in short vignettes that best suits his style.
And his sentences! My goodness, this man knows how to put a sentence together. Van Booy does not trade in throw-away sentences. Everything in essential, and holds an immense power. No other writer out there can devastate you or reduce you to tears for sheer beauty like Van Booy.