Title: The Slow Regard of Silent Things
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Synopsis: This short work of fiction by the author of The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear allows its readers to get to know Auri, one of the characters in these earlier books. As Patrick Rothfuss says in the introduction, it’s not a proper story. It’s a bit strange and doesn’t follow any of the conventional story “rules.” But then, he has an approach to storytelling all his own (and a beautifully lyrical style of writing as well).
But why, you might ask, would I be including a book review of a work of fantasy on a site for divorced moms?
Well, for one thing, for something fun and different. And for another thing, because Auri’s story struck a chord that I thought might resonate with divorced moms.
The book is not very long, but it beautifully gives readers an in-depth look at Auri’s life over seven days in the Underthing (you’ll have to read The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear to learn more about this setting). If you want to understand the story, you may want to read those books first.
Who Would Benefit? If you want to read some good writing and gain a glimpse of a life both broken and beautiful, this book can stand on its own. It might touch the broken places in your own life and help you to view them through a different lens.
Why I Picked it Up: My daughter introduced me to The Name of the Wind when that book first came out in 2008. She said it was one of the best books she’d ever read, and urged me to read it. (She has often been my best source for new fiction, especially fantasy which we both enjoy). I appreciated a story where I couldn’t predict the ending (unfortunately that’s rare for me), and I loved the depth and truth of Rothfuss’ perspectives on life and his very human characters. His writing is lyrical and fitting to the story – no jarring words or poorly edited sentences to mar the experience.
So I read the first two books in the Kingkiller Chronicle (the two mentioned above) and am eagerly awaiting Book 3. In the meantime I’d read on Rothfuss’ blog about this novella which grew from a short story he was writing for an anthology. This story grew too long and took too many turns to fit that anthology, but, with encouragement from others, came to be published on its own. My son brought it home from the library last week, and I told him I needed to read it when he finished.
What I Liked: My son warned me that he found the story odd and hard to read. But I enjoyed it from the moment I picked it up. There is an absence of action, drama and conflict, at least on the surface. But much like the daily life of a divorced mom, there is a flow and beauty to the ordinary events of Auri’s life in the Underthing. And as I read, I came to know her and both her brokenness and her gifts.
As the author himself says, “…I have a special place in my heart for this strange, sweet, shattered girl… I think it’s because we’re both somewhat broken, in our own odd ways….I’ve had person after person tell me that they empathize with Auri. That they know where she’s coming from. I didn’t expect that. I cannot help but wonder how many of us walk through our lives, day after day, feeling slightly broken and alone, surrounded all the time by others who feel exactly the same way.”
This, I think, is what I liked most about the story and why I think it might resonate with divorced moms – those of us who feel slightly broken and alone.
What I Didn’t Like: I wish there was more. And I hope this story carries us into Auri’s next meeting with Kvothe and the next segment of the story.