About the book
This is the story of a bricklayer.A master of his craft, he keeps its sacred teachings secret. For him a house isthe dwelling place of a soul, and a house must be built in the right spirit orthe soul inside it will suffer. The building of an arch is a ritual to obtain aright relation with the earth and a connection with the truth. The bricklayerrecalls his previous life as a Druid priest. He talks about the creation of thesacred landscape of these islands; how even a simple stick lying on the groundwould tell people the direction they needed to go in; how when people stared atthe stars, they were staring at their own mind. The reader sees the worldthrough the eyes of this great, magical being at the time of the Romaninvasion, and learns how he tricked Julius Caesar and set in train the seriesof events that would lead to Caesar’s assassination on the Ides of March. Butas the bricklayer continues, he worries he is losing his ancient, sacredpowers. The vision begins to fray at the edges as we learn how he has recentlytaken violent revenge on yobs who have mocked him. Is he really connected to aonce living Druid priest, or is he gradually losing himself in his ownfantasies?
Publishedon: August 4, 2011
Publishedby: Coronet Books
Thanksto the publishers for sending me a copy of this book to review.
Idon’t really know where to start with Bricks.When I was asked whether or not I’d like to review this book, I jumped on it.The idea the author was presenting with this work impressed me and peaked mycuriosity. I didn’t notice how short it was, nor do I think the length wouldhave altered my desire to read it. I was, however, surprised when I saw thatthe book itself is around 130 pages, 105 of which are the actual story. Theproduction is high end. The cover art is beautiful; the quality of the book itselfis impressive. I was excited to start reading it and hoped that the quality ofthe writing and plot itself matched the physical quality of the book.
There,I guess, is the problem.
Letme clarify. There isn’t really a problem with Jenner’s writing style. In fact,he has a talent with words that truly shows. Some of the passages in this bookare absolutely beautiful. However, some of them are rather clunky and overallhis writing does lack a certain finesse and subtlety that I generally enjoy innovels. For example, I often felt like I was being hit over the head with thesame point over and over again throughout the book. I’m not sure if this wouldhave been a less acute annoyance if Brickshad been longer, allowing more room for what Jenner was trying to say so hecould be subtler with his overall message(s).
Themain issue I have with Bricks is bestdescribed by my reaction to the book by the time I got to chapter four. When Ireached this point, I had to put the book down before continuing. I wasseriously scratching my head wondering whether this was a novel or an essaythat the author had tried to turn into a novel. The reason I say this isbecause there really isn’t any conversation between characters to speak ofthroughout the book or any catching plot. It’s one vague, mysterious individualthinking (or maybe discussing with himself) the events of his life(s) andimportant moments in history. Interspersed in this is alternativespirituality/pseudo religious/earth-toned philosophical musings. I often feltlike Jenner could have done a better job if he had just written what he wastrying to say rather than beating around the bush with a shadowy figure who mayor may not actually be building something on some mysterious landscape whilemusing on a past he may or may not have actually experienced.
Inthe last chapter, Jenner drops all pretenses at a story and blatantly says whathe is trying to say. I found this to be both refreshing in the fact that he wasno longer trying to couch his message in the musings of some illusive figure,but also incredibly slap-you-in-the-face blunt and absolutely lacking finesse.The problem with commentary like this is that it will do nothing butdivide the audience. Many of the individuals who work their way through thisbook won’t find the end message appealing at all, nor will they find thespiritual mumbo-jumbo pleasing, either. This could easily leave many potentialreaders, and fans of the author with a sour taste in their mouth and willseriously diminish and divide the overall audience Bricks will appeal to.
PerhapsI would feel differently about this book if it were longer, allowing many ofthese not-so-subtle ideas Jenner was trying to discuss a little more palatableand a little subtler. Perhaps more pages, more dialogue, characters the readercould easily care about and become engaged with could help me enjoy Bricks.However, as it was, I enjoyed much of Jenner’s style, and do feel asthough the author himself shows serious promise as a writer, but do not enjoythis book. It was too clumsy and too short to handle the deeper meanings putforth here. Jenner needed to decide if he was writing a book, or writing anopinion essay and really pour himself into either decision made. The wishy-washy,“what is this supposed to be” feel of Brickswas, perhaps, the most frustrating part of the whole novel. Bricks will appeal to a certainaudience, as the 250,000 audio listeners attest. I guess I’m just not one ofthem.
And hey, maybe I just completely missed the point of this entire book.