The Myth of Brilliant Summers

By Austin Collings
Pariah Press

With the short chapters and black and white pictures, The Myth of Brilliant Summers feels like a scrapbook, a journal of quick thoughts fleshed out by someone unhappy with the modern world. The content concerns itself with the ordinary and mundane to reflect on the everyday of the author, making comment on what he sees around him on a regular basis.

While I wouldn’t call it grim, the writing and narrative are certainly bleak. The lack of any real speech also means that the novel comes across as a wander through an unhappy mind, an unsettled stream of consciousness pouring from a psyche prone to pessimism, backed up by straightforward notes to reader. The novel screams of trying to find meaning – of young lads spending summer days doing nothing in particular, trapped by their age and financial standing, of text conversations with the recently sectioned, of an unhappy childhood smeared with unpleasant characters. The novel seems to be interested in individuals rather than groups, giving us a look at a range of people who are, for want of a better word, normal.

There’s a futility about the entire thing and I definitely couldn’t recommend it to anyone looking for a jolly read, but then I don’t think the novel wants to be read by those people. I think it wants people to look around them, to understand that, in between the moments where we’re happy and content, our lives will always be peppered with the bad times. Perhaps there’s something beautiful in that, but either way it’s the truth. This is the kind of novel which reminds you that if you spend your life with only occasional forays into the dark side, then in one way you should count yourself lucky, but in others you’re the unluckiest of all.

Jacob Ormrod