Speculate – A Book Review

An analysis of a book features on this page after a long time. I have moved all writings related to literature, books, reading, author stories to my other website Tomes and Tales, to avoid flooding this site with all my bookish quirks. Thought I’d begin the new year’s write-ups with this magnificent book that’s one of its kind.

Title – Speculate

Authors – Eugen Bacon and Dominique Hecq

Genre – Speculative fiction, micro lit

I had read and loved Eugen Bacon’s ‘The Road to Woop Woop‘ last year. Her works can be described as genre defying or genre defining – whichever way you choose to look at it – crossing the fringes that encapsulate books into clear cut genres. The fact that ‘Speculate‘ is also from Meerkat Press – a publishing house that comes out with some very different but very good literature – piqued my interest in this book that Bacon co-authors with Hecq. On learning both writers are PhDs, I knew the book would offer a reading experience like no other, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Speculate‘ can be described as a collection of stories, essays, thoughts, opinions, rants or ramblings, prose and poetry, flash fiction and speculative narratives – a hybrid genre that has everything and nothing, a compilation of shapeshifters. You think you’re following the sequence of events and entering into the writer’s mind, but then the script gets flipped leaving you to wonder what happened – wanting more of what you just read, and at the same time pressing on with the writer duo to see what else is there to come.

The book at its core is a conversation between the pair. Divided into two parts, the first segment begins with Bacon’s writings while Hecq responds, and the roles get reversed in the second section with Hecq leading and Bacon following her cues. This interplay within the narrative is something I haven’t seen or read before, and I loved the ingenuity of the writing. One author’s text echoes a response from the other, which stirs an element in the first writer, that in turn diverges into the thoughts of the second, and so on. The conversational tone moves beyond the actual reading, and is resonant with life in general – the people we agree with, the ones whose views differ from our own, similar thoughts represented in differing words and actions, varied viewpoints causing the same result. Every chapter is conflicted with the writing styles of its authors – they might interpret the story in the exact same way, or proffer starkly different versions of the same events. And that’s the beauty of Speculate, reading one book by two writers and understanding both the similarities and differences.

A donut that doesn’t want to be eaten, a wedding, bookworm conundrums, author recommendations, relationships, beatitudes, a window’s observations, nature, science fiction – anything and everything goes in this volleyball of words in a playground of language. Having read another book by Bacon just a few weeks ago, I was assured of a spectacular read from her. It was Hecq who stunned me – the fact that Bacon could find another writer just like herself, in the sense of being so different and a magician with language. Here are some striking quotes, the likes of which fill up the book.

~Lies we tell until we hear gods laughing so hard the universe splits its sides and music falls from the stars.

~The pen moist in your fingers anticipates a pure taste of text.

~Unfinished poems cartwheel in the stars on a windless night.

~We learn the taste of blood and tears in the womb.

~It’s raining ropes. I could go up or down.

~I study the keyboard for a space between sleepers and their dreams.

~I’m glad you opted for a visor instead of a veil.

~I take a deep breath. A giant leap. I land on the moon and bump into Neil Armstrong.

~I don’t believe it. Truth came to stay when I was away.

~They sat in emphatic silence, navigating chopsticks, nibbles, tweets and texts, as they connected with the rest of the world but them.

~Together is something physical that remains an abstract.

~Blessed are they with an endless fascination for fresh turmeric, for they shall receive a floral fragrance that stains yellow.

A book that needs to be savored and absorbed, ‘Speculate’ is art in itself and embodies the magic that can be conjured up with language. A short read that feels much longer than it is because you pause and ponder and re-read and highlight the majesty of writing before you. An interesting an varied collection, a gem for readers looking to expand their reading choices.

My rating – 4/5

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