I’m going to try my hand at a review. Robert J. Wiersema may weep at the incoherency of this attempt at his book, “The World More Full of Weeping”, but here we go anyway. Published by the independent house ChiZine Publications out of Toronto, the story is just 76 pages, plus some notes and acknowledgements at the end, a very fast read due both to the length, as well as the economy of Wiersema’s words. There are no wasted lines here, no distracting tangents or subplots, and this is one of the book’s major strengths. It is focused, straight forward, clean, and above all, full of depth and meaning.
The story revolves around Jeff, a divorced dad, and his 11-year old son Brian. They live in Jeff’s his childhood home in rural British Columbia, on the edge of a forest. One day, Brian does not come home from his regular trek into the woods. He speaks of a strange girl, Carly, the day before he disappears. The two storylines follow Jeff as he and his ex-wife cope with the search for their missing son, and Brian in the days leading up to, and including, his disappearance. We learn along the way that Jeff himself was once lost in the same woods when he was the exact same age as Brian, and that he also knew Carly at that age.
Carly is a mysterious girl who seems to materialize from the forest and takes Brian on amazing journeys therein, discovering a different world within the trees that he did not see before. Brian begins to care for Carly and wants nothing more than to be with her, but he is to move to Vancouver with his mother. His parents worry that he is too much of a loner, that he won’t have any friends as he grows into a young man. Then he walks off into the forest one day and does not come back, sparking the search. I won’t go further lest I spoil the plot.
To me, the forest signified the transition from childhood to adulthood. Jeff got lost in the forest at 11, as does his own son. The line “Like father like son” is repeated throughout the story. Brian is a loner, who enjoys the woods the way a kid should, but he’s at that age where things begin to change. What you enjoyed as a child changes as you mature, and Carly represents an opportunity for them to stay a child. Whether or not the author intended this, I’m not sure, but that’s how I read it. The parents divorced, Brian would be moving in with his mom, leaving behind the woods and Carly, or in other words, leaving behind his youth and losing that part of him, probably forever, and that frightened him more than anything.
The story is well told and moving. Wiersema captures the father’s desperation, as well as the mother’s, and the awkward state between them. When the story focuses on Brian, we are lost in an 11-year old’s world and the voice for both narratives is strong and true. And the economy of words shows up well in this example: Jeff is staring out his kitchen window at the gathering dark as the search teams tromp through the forest. The light is waning, as are the hopes of finding Brian before the cold dark of night descends. Wiresema writes, “… In the window, the world was gradually disappearing, being replaced by his distorted reflection.” – For me, that line describes the disappearance of his son, the boy, and in its place, he sees himself, distorted by the window, changed, as his son will be if they find him. When the boy leaves, a man barely recognizable replaces him.
I would be remiss not to mention a couple things my editor’s eye noticed. First, there are an abundance of adverbs (-ly words) which most beginning writers are drilled to avoid like the plague, but I won’t argue that “rule” here and now. Toward the end of the story, there are one or two mistakes – a typo, a shift in tense. I note them simply to note them. There may have been others, but I was too swept up in the story to notice or care, and they were no more abundant than the number of errors/typos I recently found in a novel from a big-name publishing house. Shit happens. Overall, the editing and production of this book are very good. And for an independent publisher, the book itself is striking and impressive, and worth the money paid for a physical copy. Overall, this is an emotional, intense, fast read that will likely linger with me for some time.