I don’t like to do reviews on this site. I mean it, I’ve honestly never seen a lot of value in being purely subjective about art (books, movies, video games), which are by their nature open to interpretation and subjectivity. Personally, I try to use objective reasoning whenever possible to talk about subjective things (probably don’t succeed often but I try). I don’t mean to badmouth reviews at all – they’re fun, and the well put together ones can be very enlightening.
Maybe it is just that a review sounds so… formal and uniform for this, subject material that is anything but. I could write a glowing review talking about how much I loved Patrick Rothfuss‘ recent Kingkiller offshoot, The Slow Regard of Silent Things, and go into how a well-developed character can carry a weak plot… but I feel like that would entirely miss the point, as well as be misleading. For one, it would imply that I think the plot is weak – I don’t.
Yet Rothfuss’ own words describe what he must have felt writing it. The height of the action in the story is, and I am paraphrasing the author here, soap making. Yep, that’s it. Sounds thrilling right? Objectively speaking – as most good reviews try to incorporate – there isn’t much action going on in The Slow Regard of Silent Things, or much traditional plot structure at all. I’m not sure if I would say it has a climax or a resolution or a rising action or any of it. It simply begins, exists, and ends.
And in doing so, it is a story that celebrates the sheer beauty of writing in ways that few others do.
Opening the book, one is immediately greeted by a message from the author – one that pretty much says “don’t read this.” I am generalizing. It simply encourages the reader to not read this first, instead saying that one would be better off reading The Name of the Wind as an introduction to Rothfuss’ world and “true” writing style. It also warns that this book, The Slow Regard of Silent Things, will likely not be enjoyable.
Boy that Patrick, what a salesman! So yeah – pretty much a glaring “don’t read this. You might not enjoy it.”
Such a shame to begin with that much of a downer warning, although I cannot say that I fully disagree. I do not know if someone unfamiliar with the Kingkiller Chronicle and its world would enjoy this book, and it is true that Patrick Rothfuss is not entirely his usual self here. His writing is still superb, with excellent word choice that paints wonderful pictures in the reader’s head. That said, there’s no dialogue and no use of different storytelling techniques to fully flush out the world – staples of Rothfuss’ other works.
Reading this, I don’t think the reader could get any realistic idea of whether or not they would enjoy anything else Patrick Rothfuss has written. That, however, is far from a bad thing – if anything, it simply points to Rothfuss’ versatility as an author. Being able to write in two distinct styles well is to be applauded, whatever the circumstance.
See it’s funny to me how much this book always seems to need a disclaimer before it’s discussed. Like it needs defending before the first page is read. In a way, this is perfect and fully symbolizes the book’s theme and main character.
The Slow Regard of Silent Things can best be described as the journal of a broken human being, someone whose very thoughts have bent from reality. Rothfuss’ introduction at the beginning can be seen as a father interceding on behalf of his daughter.
The book’s main character, Auri, is not entirely true – again to paraphrase the book’s words. Something happened in the past to drive Auri away from people, away from the world above and into a silent and still world below.
Yet Auri seems for the most part okay with this, delighting in her world that, while devoid of other human beings, is filled with “people” for her to talk and listen to. Her friends include gears, candles, sheets, and soap. They don’t really talk, but they have a lot to say.
What follows is, well, Auri’s life. The life of someone broken, who knows it, but is still trying to find beauty and be happy anyway. In this regard, Auri is a true to life and empathetic character. She is a rallying cry to anyone different who just wants to go their own way to a world that screams follow the steps.
It is nothing but spectacular that her book is the same way. Is The Slow Regard of Silent Things a great book? Probably not in the traditional sense – but that’s exactly what it isn’t going for.
Reading it, I couldn’t help to think that there might be another, much more difficult way to write stories. A way that is only possible when the author ceases all together and the book and the character become indistinguishable.
Who is it for: anyone who feels alone. Anyone who feels outside of the stream of common conscience. Anyone who just wants to stop for five seconds wondering “what should I be” and just be. Anyone who is a little broken, and knows it – but is okay with it.