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Book review: <i>And The Soft Wind Blows</i> by Lance Umenhofer

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the cover of the book

Sometimes, just sometimes, you open up a book and start reading, and you're utterly hooked because you just have absolutely no idea where the story will go. In And The Soft Wind Blows, everything is where it's supposed to be, but there's an unpredictability over-riding everything. And it's the business.

The story

Timmy and Mandy married young, and Timmy was filled with the wonder and joy of eternal love. But while Timmy stayed smaller than his curiosity of spirit may indicate, Mandy got bigger and bigger, and filling up the house with her growing dissatisfaction. Timmy works two jobs, and gets by creating himself a fantasy girl in Roxy, the lady who works at his local diner.

One day, things start to fall apart. Roxy gets upset with Timmy, and Mandy doesn't come home in the evening. Timmy realises that life is tenuous, and you can't rely on everything to go on the way it should. Timmy embarks on a spiritual journey into the darkness of his soul, in the hope of making some sense of the mess his life has become.

The style

On Lance Umenhofer's website, he refers to his style of writing as poetic fiction, and this isn't a misnomer. Some of his phrases run together with no spaces, linking up like natural verbal speech. All the dialogue is written with a heavy accent and emphases, and Timmy's thoughts are magical and commonplace all at once. It's stunning stylistically, and the poetic nature of the writing conjures a dense and vivid reality.

I suspect it's this heavy realism in the characters that makes it so difficult to figure out what's going to happen next, which makes the plot all the more fascinating. Right up to the end, it's like being on a ride blindfolded, and I don't mind saying that when I did hit the twist at the end and the story finished, I was devastated because I just wasn't finished with it yet! It was more like a snapshot and I wanted MORE. But I also have to admit that the ending adds to the realism; since when is life complete? It's a series of snapshots. Furthermore, And The Soft Wind Blows is only 155 pages long, which means it really is a snapshot. So it's a breeze to read, but by the time you hit the end you're so invested in the story that left saying "No! More!".

And The Soft Wind Blows reminded me of Something Happened by Joseph Heller (but a heck of a lot shorter), which just happens to be on my list of the most amazing reads ever. So, I heartily recommend this lovely story.

Who is this book for?

Lance Umenhofer suggests it's a hipster read, but I'd like to think it has broader appeal than that. It's very short, so even if you're intimidated by books this is fantastic. Furthermore, it will enrich your life with its poetry, so just read it already. Jeez.

If you like this book, you would also like...

Something Happened by Joseph Heller! Unless, of course, you don't have that much time to invest. If not I'll excuse you, but maybe try and get your hands on something else of Lance's. He has a website, as mentioned above, which may enlighten you.

This book is available on Lance Umenhofer's website. Go there now! Buy it!

In short

Title: And The Soft Wind Blows
Author: Lance Umenhofer
Publisher: April Gloaming Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9882061-0-6
Year published: 2013
Pages: 155
Genre(s): Contemporary literature
Review Type: