Review: ApartFrom

ApartFrom by Constance A. Dunn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Much of the language in ApartFrom is fresh and evocative. I found myself immediately drawn in by Dunn’s skilful use of less than obvious sensory details. The story opens in a Bulgarian apartment, and no location could have seemed more exotic or authentic. I felt something similar for the gaudy Spanish tourist town of the second part and for Toronto in the final third. It’s clear that the author has a gift for place and atmosphere.

But ultimately, ApartFrom pulled me in and let me go. I wasn’t a fan of the way her narrative is broken into little slices of time. There were just too many breaks, with scenes often stopping just as they were about to deliver. The choppy technique works so well in movies, but in this book it felt overused, with breaks often pushing the reader only minutes into the future where standard narrative tools could have served just as effectively.

The novel is broken into three parts. That division could have worked, but the structural similarities between the three became tedious, and I never felt that they were really meant to be tied together. Rather, they were set out in parallel, with each so much alike that just one could have sufficed. The repetition didn’t reveal more to me. Instead, I felt as if I were walking back over the same emotional and symbolic ground.

While I would have personally liked to see stronger supporting characters, more interplay between the stories, and less obfuscation in general, fans of dreamy literary fiction would likely do well to get lost in ApartFrom.

View all my reviews


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