“The sound of my voice” by Ron Butlin (1987), Fiction, 143 pages
The edition below was published in 1994 by Black Ace Books (ISBN 1-872988-16-4). It includes an introduction by Randall Stevenson.
This is the story of 34-year-old Morris Magellan, married with two children.
With a loving family and a successful job as an executive in a biscuit factory, he seems to have everything going for him. Unfortunately, he also has an addiction to alcohol which is on the verge of destroying all he has.
The tale is unusually told in the second person ‘you’ form, which made me feel almost as if I was inside Magellan’s head.
‘You are thirty-four years old and already two-thirds destroyed. When your friends and business colleagues meet you they shake your hand and say, “Hello, Morris.” You reply, “Hello,” usually smiling. At home your wife and children – your accusations, as you call them – love you and need you. You know all this, and know that it is not enough.’
Ron Butlin manages to keep up this style of writing throughout the entire novel, which seems quite an achievement.
As I followed Magellan through his ups and downs, I felt I understood his warped view of himself. His periods of elation made me smile and I had a sense of sympathy for his self-deception. In this respect, Ron Butlin has done a wonderful job of engaging the reader with his protagonist.
When I was into the last quarter of the book I began to wonder how the author would manage to draw a close to the story. It seemed there was only one way it could go. Endings are the bits I always find the most difficult in my own literary attempts, but Butlin made it look easy. I found the ending very satisfying and it left me with an uplifting feeling of hope.
Many thanks to Ruth Orr, for so enthusiastically recommending this book and lending me her copy to read.