From pop culture to theological writings, there is no doubt that love is the highest virtue/feeling of them all. Love is all round, all you need is love, love me as I have loved you. It’s all there.
The narrator of Chris Tutton’s novel, The Failing of Angels also is on a quest for love. Growing up abused both physically and mentally by both parents, this narrator tries to find some higher ground in love.
The Failing of Angels is set up as a memoir, where the narrator is describing his childhood. At first his experiments in love fail. He tries his hardest to win his parents affection but it backfires, He tries to woo the girls at school but that doesn’t work either. He then tries to find solace with music and ends up forming a band, which sort of works but does not provide that fulfillment. Finally he finds what he wants in a girl called Yssy. In the meantime his abusive mother sets up a religion to redeem people. Without giving too much away the novel’s conclusion leaves us to believe that, no matter the circumstances solitude will be present but love in it’s vaguest form will help.
The Failing of Angels has a plot to ponder and pick apart (I’m sure my interpretation can be counter-argued) but really, the highlight is the writing. It is gorgeous. Tutton is a poet and that sensibility comes out in the book. Each sentence just needs to be reread. There are moments of pure beauty counterbalanced by sorrow but nevertheless there is a great amount of pleasure reading tightly crafted prose.
The coming of age novel is nothing new in literature but Chris Tutton gives the genre a fresh outlook and I can guarantee that there never be one which is as evocatively written as The Failing of Angels.
Many thanks to Avalanche Books for providing a copy of The Failing of Angels