By Sara Baume.
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This is a short story, crammed into a book of 278 pages. Yet for all that the basic tale could be told in a chapter the book does not feel too long.
Baume, in her debut novel, tells us the story of a lonely man who, according to himself, at 57 years old is “Too old for starting over, too young for giving up”. Ray, as he is named, lives in a village, where doesn’t really matter, but he is not really part of the village. He’s a misfit, living alone in what he still calls his fathers house, even though his father died years ago.
It is funny how some small event can change a life. Ray, on one of his regular and routine Tuesday visits to town, stops to look in the window of a jumble shop, and his eyes fall upon a notice that is an appeal for a “COMPASSIONATE, & TOLERANT OWNER. A PERSON WITHOUT OTHER PETS & WITHOUT CHILDREN UNDER FOUR”. A short time later we find Ray taking home a smallish dog, with only one eye and a “maggot” nose, from a rescue kennel.
Neither Ray nor OneEye, as he calls the dog, quite fit in anywhere but in this they find companionship with each other. OneEye learns to trust Ray and it seems that in each other company they have found a reason for being. Then one day, OneEye takes a bite out of a boy’s dog, a Shih Tzu. A day later and everything has changed for Ray and OneEye, they are on the road in his battered car running from the dog warden, after the boy’s mother’s report of the incident.
Spill Summer Falter Wither is a story of a strange kind of friendship, between Ray and OneEye. It might even be called a kind of love, as they each seem to find in the other something of themselves. Each relieving the loneliness for each other. Each the other’s only true friend. If you’re a sensitive reader, the ending might tear at your heart.