Monday, January 17, 2011

The White Hairs (Noah Mullette-Gillman)

The White Hairs is a tale that combines simple storytelling with spiritualism and a smattering of philosophy. The title refers to a species whose intellectual capacities exceed those of mere mortals, even if their appearance is closer to that of less intelligent beasts.
  • Overall: 3   ҉
  • Plot: 3/5
  • Originality: 3/5
  • Language: 2/5
  • Believability: 4/5
The story centers around a group of beings living in the mountains, their physique oddly reminiscent of Bigfoot. They inhabit harsh climates where humans are unable to climb, let alone dwell. This elevation is both figurative and literal: they hold themselves above Homo sapiens in terms of understanding and culture. Here in the mountains, the "white hairs" pursue spiritualism and the freeing of the soul from the body.
The mysticism practiced brings to mind various religions in which meditation or some other practice can cause the spirit to separate from the physical state. Time loses all meaning to Farshoul while his ethereal form travels the world, as is often the case with these belief systems. It is in the ties between the transcendental and the earthly that the author showcases his creativity. The way in which Farshoul manifests the damage to his spirit-self forces the reader to consider the means by which we view others, as well as the sources of our capacity to care. That the physical body can remain unscathed even as the soul is maimed is a novel concept, as the two are typically inextricably linked in literature.
While the story itself shows great promise, its brevity inhibits the reader's ability to buy into the ideas that are being presented. The abrupt shifts between scenes made it feel as if I were cataloging facts rather than immersing myself in fiction. The experience was further marred by the author's seeming need to restate what has already been said several times over. The chosen verbiage wasn't varied enough to mask this deficiency, and my mind soon rebelled as it felt underestimated. Readers pick up more than one may think. 
Given my odd affection for semicolons, I could not help but notice their frequent and inappropriate presence  in multiple sentences within the first half of the novel. While this tick vanished in the latter portion of the book, it was replaced by the incorrect use of commas in place of the semicolons that the sentence structure demanded. The author appears to be undecided betwixt the two punctuation marks, and I question whether these were typographical errors or an error of grammatical judgment.
The White Hairs feels very much like a bedtime story or a myth to be passed down at the fireside. While there is certainly interest, there is also room for growth. Enriching the world of the "white hairs" and avoiding redundancy would greatly improve the experience of reading this work.

(Review copy provided by the author)


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