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Sea of Hooks

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  127 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Sea of Hooks is a novel structured to reflect the interweaving of the two worlds inhabited by its main character, Christopher Westall. Christopher holds the spheres of ordinary days and weeks in precarious balance against the shifting field of images and voices that lies behind them. A series of traumas shatters this balance. The parallel narratives recount Christopher's y ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published November 1st 2013 by McPherson & Company
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Anthony Connolly
*Sea of Hooks: a novel*
Lindsay Hill
McPherson & Company

The skinny: A masterpiece. One of the best books of the year.
The Fat: I'm all out of paper clips. This is an extremely good thing when it's related to what I'm reading. When I come across a passage I adore, I adorn the paragraph with a paper clip; *Sea of Hooks* is festooned with them. Prepare to hear about this novel *a lot* as we're entering the "best of..." book lists season from literary outlets from here to kingdom come. This is
Devastating, captivating, masterfully written. This is a book that's straight-up good for humanity to read and to know.
This was a strange one. Episodic parcels of prose, many written poetically. In fact, when you hit the italics, you know you're getting into the protagonist's troubled head and thought patterns are going to be a little squirrely. Well, the kid's a bit messed up. His mom is as vulnerable as an eggshell in a weight room. A tad "different," and trying to shelter the kid. His dad is all about business. The old story. Neglects Sonny Boy a bit. And in one particularly disturbing segment, he falls prey ...more
Dayna Lovell
It's a novel. Characters are developed, stories told. There is a setting and a plot. However, this novel is a discovery. It is written in passages that read like poems. Often they are indeed poetry. The passages are the internal dialogue of Christopher, ponderings sometimes deeply philosophical, sometimes confessional, sometimes they sound schizophrenic. These questionings and observations do not follow a linear pattern. Sometimes more than one passage gets grouped by topic. This book is not for ...more
This is lyrical prose and quite imaginative. Rather like stream of consciousness themed paragraphs trying to be poetry? Similar in several aspects to poetry, but especially in evoking a place of emotion. Most, if not all, a sad emotion, or of void or loss. Not in chronological or logical order, or easily discerned in relationship to each other until you truly have worked for it. Tedious. But regardless of ease of read or not, it was not for me. Too depressive and perceptively, for me, too dysfun ...more
The interesting format allows viewers to piece together Christopher's life from his boyhood with a mentally ill mother and alcoholic father to his connived journey to a Buddhist monastery in Bhutan. Hill's poetic descriptions of Christopher's inner life are strikingly beautiful. They would have been more affecting kept to a much smaller amount; as it is they became tedious, and I found myself skipping them completely after the first 200 pages. The book also suffers from a stunningly unattractive ...more
This is a strange book, made up of little sections (they may be chapters, they have titles, but some are only a sentence long, and there's no page breaks.) These sections skip around, mostly between two sections of the main character's life, but still form a coherent story. Lyrical, almost poetic, this not-quite-book weaves a complex story of family and obligation.

The main character is Christopher Westall, who struggles with his past, a difficult childhood with his unstable mother, and the prese
Andrea Lim

Title: Sea of Hooks

Author: Lindsay Hill

Label: Fiction

Published in: November 2013

Jukebox: “The Great Gig in the Sky” by Pink Floyd has a complex backstory: the song started out as just an instrumental track. Then Alan Parsons brought in singer Clare Torry to layer her voice over the instrumentals. At first, she had a tough time understanding what the band wanted, but once it was suggested she think of herself as an instrument, magic happened. The moment whe
Hard to read, hard to review. About 30 pages into this one, before I read the back cover flap, I said to myself, this probably took him 20 years to write. And then after I finished it and read the flap copy trying to figure out what the book was supposed to be about, it said as much. Bravo to that and to writing essentially a 300+ page prose poem. He worked for those words and every word is perfect. No chapter breaks, only small titled segments, or fragments. Disconcerting structure that somehow ...more
Well, I found this book difficult. The format was interesting and I enjoyed much of the writing, but it was a challenge for my linear brain. It took a lot of concentration for me to stay focused and I felt as thought I lost a lot of the narrative threads and missed important pieces of the story. That said, there were many thought-provoking themes - the nature of memory, brokenness, friendship, secrets, the meaning of objects... and the usual disfunctional family element and childhood sexual abus ...more
Unique book constructed in an interesting manner. Christopher Westall’s life is told through short vignettes, some only a sentence long. I’m not sure this is technically YA, and it does alternate between Christopher’s childhood and present day, though mostly it feels coming-of-(difficult)-age. While I enjoyed the unique format and there are many interesting insights here, most notably revolving around Christopher’s father, I had trouble sinking fully into the story. It’s told in a very straightf ...more
Fall into the language of this book. Can be used as a talisman.
The best book of 2013.
I wasn't able to get at cohesion after a single reading, but stunning passages (incantations?) like the following make me wish more poets would write novels (!):


Grief keeps coming back with the same things in its hands--Grief comes back again, its hands full of the same things arranged differently--Again and again, grief only has a few things in its hands to show you--With its few things arranged differently, grief seems always fresh--Grief comes back with its hands held out again--Again an
The novel explores the nature of memory through a series of fragmented scenes about protagonist Christopher Westall, whose youth—marked by a fierce and vibrant imagination—and his trip to Bhutan—after his mother’s suicide—form parallel narrative tracks through this rich, complicated, and stunningly beautiful book.

Within these two tracks, Christopher returns to certain memories over and over, finding new insights into the patterns and relationships he’s yearning to decipher, including his collec
“Sea of Hooks” begins with a poem and then begins the story, organized into titled sections of a series of single paragraphs (and sometimes single sentences), loosely connected thematically, but not always chronologically. The structure itself was somewhat off-putting to me from the start, but as I was more drawn into the story, it became less distracting. The story centers on Christopher Westall, an only child growing up in San Francisco. We start with the suicide of his mother when Christopher ...more
Mike O'connor
One of the most interesting books I've ever read. The prose requires slowing down and reading more carefully than a typical novel, and it's formatted in bursts of thought instead of chapters. The beautiful language and philosophical tone are probably what kept me going, even though it was slow and tedious in places. It's innovative approach is part of its appeal - this wouldn't have been as interesting as a straightforward novel, I don't think.
Chrissy Gardiner
Meh. This is by a local author and has been getting rave reviews, so I picked it up. I made it to the end, and there is some really interesting stuff in here, but it's a book written by a poet and reads as such. I will be the first to admit that poetry is not really my thing, and I struggled a bit with lots of the passages, as in "let's get on with the PLOT already". But there isn't much of a plot, and things jump around all over the place. The entire book is written in little tiny sections from ...more
The book is very sad but somehow irresistible. The stream of consciousness style lures you onward but most events are referred to as being over so there isn't the immediacy that is in some kinds of narration.
This book was not easy to read. But it was worth it. I’m glad I read it. It’s written in the form of little headings over paragraphs, sentences, and in very rare cases a few paragraphs. The reason I’m glad I read it is that I found it to be a fascinating look at memory and the way memory works and the way healing works. Christopher, the central character, has the bits and pieces of memories and dreams weaving in and out of one another. One of the most helpful things to me about that - was to fac ...more
Tough to read if you treat it as a normal novel. If you read it as sequential chains of thematically related poetry and philosophy you can see it as a book to annotate and go back to.
Chris Arkills
This book is a collection of images in paragraph chapters jumping through time, dreams, and images. Sometimes it is hard to read, but much of it will stay with you.
Janice Cox
So depressing....I really was concerned about my own well being but still could not just let the book go....the author has an amazing style of writing
May 30, 2014 Susan marked it as to-read
PW Best Books 2013
An experimental, stream of consciousness book length poem of the life of Christopher Westall; his dysfunctional parents, fractured childhood and his journey to become whole.
Harrowing, heartrending and imaginative.

Gabe Habash says it so much better.
Jen Z
This was an unconventional book, a bit of a tough read, but so riveting.
Compelling read in a genre outside my usual. Enjoyed the vignette format and author's thought-provoking word mastery. The subject is heavy and sentences deep. Good read for a weekend by the fire with time to ponder.
Did not finish. I really liked the story but after a while, I found the format getting in my way. A shorter, tighter novel would have worked better. I returned this to the library the day it was due, but then checked it out again the next day, deciding I wasn't ready to give up on it yet. It's been sitting here for three weeks and I have not been motivated to pick it up again. Maybe at another time, I'll give it another shot.
I suspect that this book of novelistic, philosophical fragments may be brilliant if read very slowly. It's written by a poet who spent twenty years writing it and it may take an extra few weeks for a good reader to contemplate its full beauty. As for me, I tasted and appreciated a few pages but I must move on now.
Jan 02, 2014 Tess marked it as abandoned
I tried but I just couldn't get into this book. Not sure whether it was the unusual narrative style or that I didn't care about any of the characters.
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“And he came to understand that the burial of the broken wasn't eccentric — this was what people did every day, stuffing their brokenness down, pushing it down, smoothing the surface over, making the surface look like nothing was broken underneath. Because, if people see that you are broken, they will not want to stand with you. They will migrate away from you the way groups of people walking down the street will move aside when a shambling ranting man approaches. They will look at the ground and look away so that such a person becomes invisible. So if you are such a person or just an everyday person with some broken places, some places really broken, you will pull them back from view so you can mingle with others without being seen as broken. Because if you have the look of a broken thing, if you are pushed aside and turned from, you will never find your footing again in the world. 8 likes
“Grief keeps coming back with the same things in its hands — you know this. You know that the hands of grief are memory. Again and again, grief holds the same few things.” 2 likes
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