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Clotho's Loom: A Novel of Literary Romance and Realism Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
The lovely, complex language is redolent of a more leisurely age in reading, when being able to get through a book quickly was not the imperative it is to many today. The story, also, is complex and veers wildly, for me, between extreme realism and extreme surrealism.
Definitely not a book for the casual reader if only because of its length, which at 200,000+ words is more than twice the size of most books on shelves today. It demands total attention and lengthy sojourns within its pages. It deserves prolonged immersion.
Reminiscent of serialisation of novels in past times, chapters finish on cliff-hangers. The tensions are well-maintained, aided by successive chapters swapping between the two main characters.
I found I had to persevere for the first several chapters--the detail makes for slow going. In fact, this is true throughout the book but as I became used to and accepted the degree of exposition the more I found myself falling under its spell.
The title CLOTHO'S LOOM is a reference to Clotho, one of the Three Fates, who was responsible for spinning the thread of human life. References to the warp and woof, as allusions to the vagaries weaving through lives, run through the story. At one point the female protagonist actually restores and uses a handloom.
The story: Will and Nexus are a childless couple approaching middle age. He is a university professor, she a lawyer. In his youth Will was in the military and it's the experience and specialist knowledge he holds that on his 39th birthday sees him being inducted back into service. From there it's a downward spiral of competition between the factions wanting him while the philosophy of each constantly wars within him. He abandons his wife just as she falls pregnant, leaving her to fend for herself in an unsatisfactory and often unnerving office situation.
Both undergo extreme physical and emotional tests. In searching for their own paths do they find each other again? One wonders how, given the path down which Will allows himself to be led. But given the sub-title `A novel of romance ...' one could be forgiven for thinking, perhaps hoping, that somehow all obstacles are overcome.
I was less taken with the character of Sage, an almost goddess-type who befriends Nexus. What transpires between them is a little too vague at times. I couldn't quite believe in her.
Whew! was my reaction on completion. For the length, for the complexity, for the language, for the scope, and for StJean's vision in writing it.
4 of 5 stars
Read in February, 2013
Clotho's Loom is a story of Will and Nexus, a married couple, going though a difficult time due to the demands of work.
Will was a sniper when he was younger and was re-drafted at the age of 39.. He did not want to go back into the service and did not tell his wife Nexus about it. One night he needed to clear his head and decided to go to one of his old stomping grounds which had changed since the days he was there. It was more of a meeting place for middle eastern people, one of whom happened to be a student of his. That chance meeting changed the course of Will's life. He disappeared from his life with Nexus and that's when the story really starts.
The characters are well developed and the details of their surroundings are very detailed. It is written as two stories, chapters alternate between Will's and Nexus' lives, their struggles, misfortunes and their will to survive.
I found this book very interesting and recommend it.
The characters of Clotho's Loom are richly imagined and the imagery extremely detailed. The storyline brings us to the heart of the modern wars we mindlessly continue. Shawn StJean's biggest strength as a writer is articulating the nuances of military culture, and he very clearly has a grasp on the English language. He has a command of so much vocabulary he could be bilingual: his second tongue being Obscurity. The result is a rewarding piece of fiction that reminds of you of the beauty, depth and breadth of our English language, which I guess is one of the points of literary fiction, and Shawn StJean has nailed it. I enjoyed this novel especially because female and male characters are deeply realistic: easy to picture; people that you feel you know.
My main complaint with the book was something that was perhaps triggered by the author's command of the language: a simple character name. The lead female name, Nexus, to me, sounded incongruous with her age and position and kept reminding me of a science fiction novel. It would be interesting to learn why the author chose such an unconventional name for her. Perhaps with later works naming can be conquered more deftly. But that minor complaint is far outshadowed by the author's command of vocabulary, the interesting storyline and the well-thought plot. The nugget of imagination that the premise relies upon (a veteran being drafted because of his experience, rather than in spite of his experience) I found deeply realistic in light of today's counterinsurgency warfare, and as such, it was easy for me to suspend my disbelief and get into the character's head. For this reason, for me, Clotho's Loom was very much a story worth telling.
Make no mistake, this is one long book, but it was worth it for me. I was really impressed by how clearly Shawn St. Jean had every detail of this story mentally imagined. He accounted for every minute of his characters' lives. And I felt he did a tremendous job translating his mental imagery to the page, the result of which is a novel one can really sink their teeth into and expand their horizons on the topics of personal relationships, the intricate bond between governments and the men and women who fight to defend them, war itself, and especially, the beauty of language and literature.
Plot lines were dropped, left hanging or otherwise just ignored. Characters that had major impacts on the story were not well defined and just disappeared from the story. Other characters were total mysteries. It was very pretentious and there seemed to be no point to the struggles of the 2 main characters. And it was way too long.
I'll read most anything, but I do NOT recommend this book. And I got it for free - even that wasn't enough to save it for me.
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