My room was at the top of a concrete grain silo. The rest of the farm had fallen away to almost nothing except the silo and the 117 year old barn. The farmhouse hardly had a roof and the top floor was full of holes and dangerous.
I knew nothing about American writer Eric de Jesus prior to hearing him perform at the Editions of You ‘zine fair in Oxford on Saturday. There he read sections from his new novella, his words backed by electric guitar and drums, creating music which looped and cascaded while de Jesus spoke. The effect was so hypnotic that I didn’t catch all of what was being said, but what I did hear was enough to make me want to find out more.
Not one regret. In a span of seventy pages or so de Jesus weaves a beautifully balanced sense of place and atmosphere; his uncomplicated prose tunnelling straight into the brain. The narrative reads like a memory or a daydream, straightforward at the time, but in retrospect full of gaps and strangeness.
It took me just slightly over forty-seven minutes to read We Won’t Be Here Forever. I know this because, in an apparent proof of my incredibly average reading speed, the album of music that accompanies the book – by British ambient electronica outfit Minus Pilots – finished just seconds after I turned the last page.
The album, commissioned specially for the project, is reminiscent of Talk Amongst the Trees-era Eluvium: all lo-fi delay, gently looping and shifting patterns of notes. It complements the words very well and adds significantly to the atmosphere, making you wonder why this kind of thing isn’t done more often.
The package is not flawless – the book could do with a quick once-over by a proofreader for one thing – but it is an honest, engaging piece of writing that will stay with you. And it has a bloody good soundtrack.
We Won’t Be Here Forever is available here. It costs $13.