Review: Enon by Paul Harding

EnonEnon by Paul Harding

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

According to Paul Harding, he wrote Enon by listening quietly and waiting for Charlie to tell his story, one sentence at a time. This is apparent from reading the novel. The story unfolds organically, and there is nothing plotted or contrived about it. Nothing reads like filler or transition. It’s all movement. This creates a strong sense of intimacy between the reader and the narrator–you never feel Charlie knows anything you don’t know, or that he’s holding back.

Harding’s exploration of addiction is resonant and multi-dimensional. On the one hand, he is very matter-of-fact about Charlie’s addictive, destructive behavior, almost in the style of Denis Johnson. Yet, Harding weaves in existential introspection, memories of his daughter and his own childhood, along with otherworldly meta-narratives. There are so many layers to Charlie’s experience and to my experience reading this novel.

This book did not make me cry; it was more of a punch in the gut. The pain is psychic and visceral. It brings to mind a lyric from Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” (although I hear Jeff Buckley singing it in my head):

“Love is not a victory march/It’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah.”

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