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A Station on the Path to Somewhere Better

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Daniel tells us on the third page, “ I loved him, and it shames me that I loved him, though everything he claimed to feel for me was just an affectation or a gesture of persuasion. Competently written with a descriptive use of language, the events that start to reveal themselves stir the imagination. Without spoiling anything, the book trudges along until it explodes halfway and brings you upon a scene of devastation and the aftermath can only be lived on through the mind.

The 103 third parties who use cookies on this service do so for their purposes of displaying and measuring personalized ads, generating audience insights, and developing and improving products. W]e soon find out in this chilling and haunting portrayal about violence and love, some emotional scars cannot be undone. The richly textured narrative is subtle and holds quiet power which entrances, draws you in and before you know it you are in its grip. You can change your choices at any time by visiting Cookie preferences, as described in the Cookie notice.

His gripping third book is about a father and son road trip — a week of aching unease that climaxes in horror. I really enjoyed Benjamin Wood's previous two novels, The Bellwether Revivals and The Ecliptic, but I think this is his best so far. A Station on the Path to Somewhere Better is his best work yet – a novel written from the gut, and with a correspondingly visceral power. Their one shared interest is a children’s TV program—The Artifex—which, no coincidence, centers around a child who has greater insights and innate powers than others of his age.

The pointlessness and stupidity of actions are all too apparent but the final actions of Dan's father seem disproportionate and out of character. What can possibly go wrong when you dad shows up promising to take you on a trip to the set of the TV series he's working on?Francis is also a liar, and Daniel, now narrating as an adult and who hoards VHS tapes of the show, warns the reader that the trip went badly (“when I think about that August week and what transpired, I know it is the fault line under every forward step I try to make”), but it takes a while for the reader to find out just how disastrous. because the writing was good, the lack of the other 3 because it was like trying to walk through treacle, a sad slightly pointless plot, unlikeable characters. Meanwhile, the horror is heightened by the fact that we see all this through a child’s eyes: as if in some terrifying pantomime, we want to scream at Daniel to do something, anything – and then remember that he is only a boy. There’s a bit of heavy-handed retrospection as they drive away: “That was the last time I saw her,” Daniel tells us, narrating from the future.

Along the way, Francis’s temper and details of his philandering emerge, and he reacts violently when he and Daniel aren’t allowed onto the studio lot. If I have a major issue with A Station On the Path, it’s that it seems to be reaching for a moral weight with which to invest its horrors that doesn’t appear warranted. Part thriller, part painful reminiscence of severely ineffectual parenting, trauma, and lingering grief. As always, Wood has delivered a book that is utterly compelling and hard to put down, well written and easy to read.Yes, some of what happens did escalate nearly into the realm of farce as Francis got in deeper and deeper but the culmination of that side of things was indeed inevitable. More of this parallel wouldn’t have gone amiss: the point is that the show is about not just the line between reality and fantasy, but that between fantasy and insanity.

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