The Encounter by Hillary
Sort of a short backstory:
The Canyon of Life is so named for the abundance of rare plants, found nowhere else on earth and capable of healing any ailment, that grow at its heart. No one knows how the canyon came to be, but all have heard of the treasures it holds. However, the name “Canyon of Life” is wildly misleading. Those who brave this canyon set out with heavy hearts, knowing full well that their chances of success are slim, but feeling the rewards outweigh the risks. They kiss their loved ones for the last time, share one final moment with friends and companions they will leave behind, and head to their probable deaths. For even if they evade the gangs of crooks and marauders that flock to the canyon for its riches, few have faced the Colossus dwelling in its foggy recesses and lived to tell the tale.
THESE ARE THE WORST.
I mean, I’ve had a couple types of crushes.
The first is purely aesthetic appreciation. The initial “Oh, wow” factor that gets you thinking about them in the first place. However, this can easily (at least for me) wear off at the drop of a hat. Him quite obviously having absolutely zero interest in me, for example.
The second is very different, because it’s the kind that isn’t nearly so transient and which is based on far more substantial material, making it— you guessed it! — at least 10x harder to be rid of.
Forming a crush on the slope of someone’s shoulders or the way they grin is one thing, developing a deep affection for how they think, the way they see and describe the world, the words they use to articulate their ideas…
That, my friend, is when you (we) are in trouble.
(Source: seenoevi1, via antisocial-anita)
FIRST THOUGHTS: An incredibly bleak and emotional tale; in other words, not one for the faint of heart.
I personally enjoyed immersing myself in the man and the boy’s daily struggle to exist in a world which, by its very nature, seems set to conspire against them. I particularly loved the sharp insights provided by the man’s introspective, sometimes disjointed shifts in narration. I firmly believe that, as a reader, you don’t really have to know exactly what or who he was referring to or why he was thinking a certain number of things all at once for the impression they give to be impactful. I found the sparse, fragmented narration resonated well with the stark divisions the man experienced within himself, such as his ongoing struggle to live and take care of the boy, while also having to shoulder not only the physical demands of survival, but the corrosive mix of memory and emotion left over from the world he remembers but which no longer exists.
Unlike a good many other books I’ve read that fall under the “best seller” or “widely popular” categories, I think this one actually succeeded in giving a stark, piercing look into its principle characters and so absorbed me in their struggles that I found it difficult to resurface once I’d dived into their story.
So, if harsh character studies, introspective struggles, and existential angst brewed over high-intensity narrative is your particular cup of tea: I feel confident in recommending it to you.
WORD OF CAUTION: Do try not to bite your nails down to the quick whilst being tossed about by the experience of it all as I did. It makes for an uncomfortable (and slightly embarrassing) discovery upon resurfacing.