ELEANOR If I could turn back time
With more and more people going down the self- publishing route in recent years, in many ways it’s remarkable that any single author can make themselves heard above the tumult. Jason Gurley’s mainstream debut is one of a growing number initially self- published ( in 2014) before being picked up by a “traditional” publisher.
Eleanor occupies the same sort of slightly uneasy genre space as Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones or Lydia Millet’s Oh Pure And Radiant Heart: pretty writing, clunky mechanics. There are fantastical elements in this tale of a family devastated by loss over the course of three generations, but they are frustratingly fuzzy and unsatisfying.
Teenager Eleanor, left to care for her alcoholic mother after her father abandons them in the wake of tragedy, finds herself at the mercy of a force she can’t control, which may be allowing her to travel in time, or between worlds. But it’s the mundane world of cinnamon toast, empty whisky bottles and chilly rainstorms that feels more compelling and vivid. At times, the fantasy comes dangerously close to cheapening a heartfelt story; ultimately, it works better as metaphor than SF. Nic Clarke
Gurley has also designed the covers for numerous books, including editions of Hugh Howey’s Wool, Shift and Dust.