Book: The Nonchalant Man Between Worlds: And Other Stories
Author: William W. Chan
Genre: Fiction, Self-Discovery, Short Stories, Magical Realism
Review Copy: Reedsy
Available on: Amazon.in
The first story in this collection by William W. Chan, reminded me of Oliver Sack’s work – The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. Deeper into the book, a Kafkaesque feeling emerged. It is the nature of man to always seek. Some seek answers in science, trying to decipher the mysterious functioning of the brain. Many lean towards metaphysical ponderings on the functioning of the heart, soul, and mind.
The Nonchalant Man Between Worlds: And Other Stories are based on this quest, chasing the pertinent question of what’s real in our world and what may lie beyond in other realms. Dreams can be derived from realities and perturb us as much as illusions in waking hours.
The human and anti-human, creatures, demons, evil, fear, all emerge in our thought-scape based on the state of our mind. What happens when something snaps within us and cracks appear in our vision; when the mind is philosophical, the heart is lonely, and the soul disillusioned? Hallucination-based stories like those told by Chan are born.
Nightmares and illusions predominate the stories. Shifting perceptions harass the characters. My personal favorite is, The Fallen, where I sensed a mystery and indulged in a guessing game of who Harold was and his fate. Many of the open-ended stories leave us wondering.
Quite a few stories are narrative in style, imageries piling up, increasingly reflecting the complexity of perceptions. Chan clearly questions, “Has the world always been like this, both insane and chaotic, only he has not seen it as it actually is until now?” This is the theme of the book. Anguished ponderings on the chaos in our minds, purpose, and meaning of our lives, as we try to find a place as friends, lovers, and social beings.
The well-articulated stories are for anyone who has an interest in metaphysical, spiritual, and philosophical notions, motifs, and themes. Interpretation and understanding of Magic Realism shifts from one reader to the next, in fact, one day to another. Such works are not for light readers.
This is a book for rumination and not just about people going about their daily lives. It is for readers who question the happenings and perceptions of their regular existence. It demands attention and offers deep contemplation dressed up as Magical Realism. Keep a highlighter handy for some musings that are worth marking for a later read, as you relate with them.