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Monday, October 5, 2009

Book review: Gordon Highland's Major Inversions

Posted By on Mon, Oct 5, 2009 at 5:23 PM

Major Inversions, by Gordon Highland, CreateSpace, 276 pages
  • Major Inversions, by Gordon Highland, CreateSpace, 276 pages

Drew Ballard is perhaps the least likely protagonist ever.  For one, he’s not all that likable, being a drug-dealing and abusing rent-a-cop with musical talent - he plays in a hair metal tribute act, The Down Boys,  a jazz fusion act called, Feu Jeune, and works as the jingle writer of choice for the Wilmington area.  He’s also a slacker despite his workload, with no real goals beside the next gig.  The only thing he wants to do with women is of the carnal desire.  He really shouldn’t be the center of such an engaging and intriguing novel.

Consider the opening line: “My earliest memory is shitting in the bathtub.”  Such an inauspicious line  births the main theme of the novel, that of creation.  The music, such as the wonderful chorus of jingle’s sprinkled through the novel (Grooves in the sand, innocence lost / A period in waiting, anxiety the cost), is the most obvious creation Drew gives us access to.  The whole of the novel, too, is Drew’s creation, his own story and how he wants to tell it.  He talks to the reader, admitting things are omitted or simply not as they really happened, though there is one reader in particular he is addressing.

The metafictional aspects of the novel are engaging, giving readers a layer to come back too once  finishing. It brings more and more to the forefront that you didn’t quite get through the initial reading.  With the format of a thriller, Highland undermines expectations, - pulling out the rug on subplots - but each thread he weaves is all in service to a great story.  This is one of those novels that will completely exceed your initial impressions, throwing you for a loop as the twists start.  Though he subtly foreshadows the ending near the beginning, you won’t see it coming.  Everything is important in this novel, as pointless as it may seem.  From his dealing and security guard day job to the music he creates and the people he meets - everything is working to the ultimate payoff.  To tell you too much would ruin a surprising read, and I want nothing to do with such sins.

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