In the Country of the Blind by Edward Hoagland
Arcade Publishing: 11/1/16
eBook review copy; 204 pages
In the Country of the Blind by Edward Hoagland is a so-so
novel set in the 1960's.
At 47, Press is losing his sight. Due to his loss of sight, he has
already lost his job as a stockbroker and his wife, who doesn't want
to care for him. He moves to a cabin in Vermont, near a couple
helpful neighbors, a hippy commune, and, apparently, drug runners,
while he, rather aimlessly, tries to figure out how to live the rest
of his life. Carol, an artist and hippy who lives nearby takes an
interest in Press and shows up unannounced and visits, takes him to
the commune, entertains him, cooks and eats with him, teases him,
and provides sex. Melba, a local woman comes to clean his cabin and
provides conversation. And random stuff happens.
At age 83, Hoagland, himself, is going blind, which provides some
buzz about his novel. It does allow him to describe the loss of
sight and the challenges facing Press, but that doesn't seem to be
enough to carry the whole novel. Press comes across as a foolish man
who is purposefully choosing to be oblivious to certain facts and is
making odd, rather self-destructive choices. Additionally, all the
characters seem to speak in the same, hesitant voice which results in the
conversations all feeling awkward, which were already awkward due to the content.
Even with some parts that were beautifully descriptive, this novel
just never hit the right note for me. I finished it feeling dejected
and desiring a better novel, or at least one with a plot and more focus.
My advanced reading copy was courtesy
of the publisher/author.