Shot-Blue, by Jesse Ruddock, is one of the most splendid books I’ve read in the past year. I don’t think I have been as charmed by a book since I read And the Birds Rained Down, last year. It’s one of those books that is quietly beautiful and seeps into you, twisting it’s tendrils around your soul. To be honest, I’m not even sure that I can adequately explain to you how very much I loved this book. Or, why.
He didn’t notice that he was cold until the sun slipped its fingers in between the treeline and sky to split a space open like the gills of a fish, showing the red breathing ribbons.
I won this as part of a giveaway from Coach House Books, hosted on 49th Shelf (an excellent resource of CanLit news, book lists, etc.). I was thrilled when I found out because I was intrigued by the books summary.
The book starts as a story of a single mother and her son, their relationship and their struggles. Bit by bit, things fall apart and we are left with an adolescent who seems lost and who’s somewhat disconnected from everyone else: quiet, unconventional, being used by others. He, Tristan, seems as remote and quiet as the landscape.
One stone at a time, he was throwing the island into the lake, and it was no consolation but it was true he was doing it. The island was disappearing, imperceptibly to everyone but him.
But, in the grand scheme of things, the plot is largely inconsequential. This book is not about the plot – it’s about emotions and imagery. The mood and the prose are what matter in this book. It’s as if Ruddock is actually sharing a painting. Those aren’t words – they’re broad brushstrokes. This isn’t just a book – it’s a great Canadian landscape, dark and moody. The book reflects this in how it’s written. It feels chapter-less and seems to drift quietly from character to character. The story wanders around the island it’s largely confined on.
In October, winds from the north subdued the pines, slowed their sap to a drip. Frost took the knees out of the ground life.
As with many of my favourite books, this book is steeped in poetry, so I wasn’t surprised to read that Ruddock is a poet and songwriter. The writing is beautiful and lyrical. I found myself not only unable to put the book down, but also unable to read it without a pen ready to underline lovely thoughts and imaginative descriptions.
The air snapped its fingers like a smelling salt.
This book requires one thing from the reader: time. It’s the sort of book where you will get lost if you don’t allow yourself to dive in for long times. Reading a few pages here and there will take away from the books mood. You’ll be left so focused on little things that you’ll forget to look at the full picture. You need to see it all to appreciate what it has to offer.
If you decide to read this book, I encourage you to take your time, enjoy the prose, absorb the mood, and give yourself plenty of time each time you pick it up. It’s a beautiful read and feels very Canadian.