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Sea of Hooks

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  145 Ratings  ·  42 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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Community Reviews

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Anthony Connolly
Feb 03, 2014 Anthony Connolly rated it it was amazing
*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
Dec 26, 2013 Jeanette rated it it was ok
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
Dec 17, 2013 Jen rated it it was amazing
Devastating, captivating, masterfully written. This is a book that's straight-up good for humanity to read and to know.
Jul 14, 2013 Gabe rated it it was amazing
The best book of 2013.
Feb 28, 2014 Ken rated it liked it
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
Jan 04, 2014 Laura rated it it was amazing
Shelves: oregon
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
Dayna Lovell
Feb 27, 2014 Dayna Lovell rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 13, 2013 Constance rated it liked it
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
Aug 13, 2014 Caitlin rated it liked it
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
Apr 14, 2014 Andrea Lim rated it liked it
Shelves: reviews

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
Feb 24, 2014 Kristen rated it liked it
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
May 19, 2014 Judith rated it liked it
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
Jan 07, 2014 Michelle rated it liked it
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
Nov 08, 2013 Eric rated it it was amazing
Fall into the language of this book. Can be used as a talisman.
Mar 30, 2016 Maddelyn rated it really liked it
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
Dec 16, 2013 Rachel rated it liked it
“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
Apr 12, 2014 Mike rated it really liked it
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
Mar 16, 2014 Chrissy Gardiner rated it liked it
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
Sep 30, 2015 Judy rated it really liked it
Written like no novel I've read before - in titled paragraphs. A mixture of childhood trauma, philosophy, and adult choices that somehow connect even though nothing is chronological. Portland author. Met him in Eugene.
Jun 19, 2014 Wendy rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 03, 2014 Michael rated it really liked it
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
Apr 23, 2014 Tony rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 12, 2014 Chris Arkills rated it it was amazing
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.
Fred Gumminger
May 07, 2016 Fred Gumminger rated it really liked it
Exceptionally creative and poetic. Still trying to grasp the ending (but that's a good thing in this instance.)
Janice Cox
Dec 24, 2014 Janice Cox rated it liked it
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
Nov 15, 2013 Lillian rated it really liked it
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
Feb 05, 2014 Jen Z rated it really liked it
This was an unconventional book, a bit of a tough read, but so riveting.
Feb 17, 2016 John rated it really liked it
Interesting, but elusive and mystifying. Hope for the author's sake it's not too autobiographical.
Jan 12, 2014 Babs rated it liked it
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.
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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. 9 likes
“Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, at high speed, her eyes fixed on the road, Abigail asked, a little loudly above the hum, 'Do you think that neurosis is when you lie to yourself so much that other people start to notice?' Christopher, who'd been looking through the blurred bridge railing down to the boats on the bay, turned and responded, 'I think it's when your past is like a floor set on water and it won't right itself, so you're shifting your weight and contorting yourself in ways that only make sense to you because no one else can see how you're trying to balance yourself, how you're trying just to stand.” 2 likes
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