The ‘shark faced boomerangs’ seem the least of Gareth E Rees’ problems. For there is the dilapidated house in need of not only renovating, but also an exorcism or three. Then there is that nagging pain in his groin. Not to mention how the coast whips up the ghost of his dead friend. And so begins an entrapment of grief. A grief which dances with the occult. The two pulling him away from the here and now, cracking the illusion that reality is not created; for what is real after all?
The Stone Tide is a glimpse into a mind being pulled backwards, questioning the past, raking over it, like a fossil collector and like the Piltdown Man, a new version is created, the pieces found cannot be accepted for what they are. But what is the value of this creation? Guilt appears to lay heavy over heart strings, as waves crash and cans are crumpled. This emotional breakdown, for me, is at the core of the book, is it the consequence of powerless over death, of reflection, of not accepting the context of the time, the trust in naivety, is it the cost of reflection, of new knowledge? Gareth’s story finishes as unresolved as the house.
A house his wife is in command of, a house being straight-jacketed into a home. But a home is not just bricks, it is more a feeling of where you belong. A feeling that appears to fade as Gareth grapple with the tragic death of his best friend. We follow Gareth caught as if lost in sea mist and history repeats, another loss. Reality appears to have moved from the people around him to the dead and occult. There are the visions and imaginings, the meetings of Aleister Crowley and John Logie Baird, can they return his friend, offer a relief from the grief? In this fading reality there is also love, his, and the dead boys of the coast, the girl in the middle. It all seems familiar, too familiar. Thudder, thunk. Thudder, thunk.
Gareth provides an unflinching insight into the human condition, the pain we can all hold and avoid, in a memoir which is referred to as a novel and fiction, yet the author is the main character, his reality is the fiction. It is a brave piece of work.
The Stone Tide is available from Influx Press.