MY REVIEW OF WHERE I FALL, WHERE SHE RISES:
At first, I didn’t understand the title but then it was perfect. An enthralling story about two women on opposite ends of the social spectrum, yet bound by a single incident. What a brilliant (and yes, at times brutal but necessarily so) depiction of our troubled, complicated and conflicted world.
Also fascinating is the depiction of the lies we’ll tell ourselves and others, simply to achieve fame – and the depths to which we will sink – and the speed with which we will sink – in order to stay on the top rung of the Karshadian ladder of influencer fame and fortune. Selling our souls for celebrity status is the new evil: the desire to be the trending Google search is the apple in our Garden of Eden. Which, if you consider, is truly ironic, since Apple and Steve Jobs were indeed the poisoned fruit of our times. And yes, while so many levels of learning and communication have been opened up by their presence, the price for those gains has been steep.
There is the price of fanatics pretending to eschew the allure of the new fame and insist that they are the antithesis of it, but they eagerly buy into it by kidnapping and torturing fellow humans on live feed all while insisting they are ‘torture artists’ not terrorists and that their cause is pure. No longer is Andy Warhol’s ridiculously short-lived fifteen minutes of fame the prize, we are brainwashed into craving the enduring glory of the internet, even if it is all a lie, smoke and mirrors.
The book is unflinching in its examination of the tortures endured by ancient saints, and indeed, by the marriage of Heaven and Hell (and the Blake poem in this regard). This book is also fascinating in the examining the relationship between pain and saintliness, pain and Godliness.
“Where there has been no story, you have told one. Where there has been nothing, you have created life. Death is the destruction of the story. Life is the creation of one. Conscience is the remembering. Guilt is the regret of destruction. Redemption is the rewriting. Suffering inspires it. Suffering is the quill.”
“If we managed to tell our story, it might destroy the marriage. I had always believed in the contraries. Hell needed a Heaven to corrupt, and Heaven needed an enemy to destroy. Could one story do anything but state what everybody already knew? The two needed each other to exist. Without the marriage, there would be no stories worth remembering. There would be nothing to create.”
“I have always loved the scent of roses. I don’t know why. It’s like it comes from the thorns instead of the flower.”
- Review by Lisa de Nikolits from THE MINERVA READER
"Dean Serravalle's Chameleon (Days) is a high concept tale spun with whimsy and empathy and stylish magic. Messengers and martyrs move through plain rooms and deserts and the cedars of Lebanon, and domestic worlds are spliced with larger worlds of international intrigue in a slippery narrative of stories within stories, exuberant and ambitious and beautiful."
~ Mark Anthony Jarman, author of Knife Party at the Hotel Europa
"An extraordinarily ambitious and moving story. Gangster toughness and complex international military intrigue meet domestic sensitivity and the exigencies of familial love, all woven together with intense doses of self-reflexivity and shapeshifting of mythical proportions. A deep novel for our troubled time."
~ Di Brandt, author of Walking to Mojacar
"Serravalle's Chameleon (Days) is a comically thoughtful riff on the intersections of art and reality, life and story." ~ Richard Scrimger, author of The Wolf and Me
Dean Serravalle, in his debut novel Reliving Charley, delivers a cautionary tale on a recurrent theme in Western narrative: mortality and the desire to transcend it. Serravalle’s economical prose articulates the heavy existential subject matter with clarity and ease, avoiding pontifications on the plight of humanity. Rather than focusing on the tragic process of individuation characterizing the Romantic confrontation with death, Serravalle instead examines how death can be a catalyst for raising a greater social awareness. The novel opens with the titular character mourning his wife’s recent death. Charley’s friend Samuel then reveals that he has developed a stem-cell serum that regenerates cellular growth and reverses aging. However, this Faustian tale eventually undermines Charley and Samuel’s attempts at death-transcendence, suggesting that their desire for immortality is the same selfish impulse evident in the acquisitive lifestyle of the youth-oriented American Dream.
Serravalle explores the gendered aspect of the American ethos of acquisition, as both men attempt to use their invigorating youth to (re)acquire the love of Linda, a common love interest. Aligning this masculinist orientation with the ethos of capitalistic acquisition underlying the American Dream, Samuel begins to envision Jay Gatsby as his personal mentor in hallucinations—a side effect of the serum. In this sense, the reverse-aging serum is more than a simple means to transcend physical death; it also gives Charley and Samuel a second chance to live out [the] imaginings they suppressed in the past, including excesses such as infidelity. But the serum has an unanticipated feature: stressful situations, such as those brought on by the acquisitive lifestyle, drastically increase the rate of regression, bringing them closer to birth/death. Samuel, whose acquisitive orientation is stronger than Charley’s, eventually succumbs to this reverse fate, while Charley learns to temper his selfish inclinations to prolong his youth indefinitely, which secures his relationship with Linda. Thus, Serravalle suggests that dreams of immortality must always be approached with caution: there is always risk in liv[ing] out our imaginings.
SHAW, JUSTIN CANADIAN LITERATURE , 14 AUGUST 2012
A FANTASTIC READ FROM BEGINNING TO END!
A good read to me has always involved imagination. Your book grabbed mine from the beginning and left me imagining, even after the end. I love reading when the story makes me imagine the people, the events, the places etc. You did that and more. So thank you for sharing your imagination with us. I've got a feeling that this is going to be the first of many. Please don't rush the next, but also don't take too long, LOL. When my son was knee high to a grasshopper we used to play a game as he and I laid in bed while he fell asleep. It was called "what if" and I'm sure you know the endless possibilities of starting a sentence with "what if". Endless, endless, endless. The door to everything lies in one's ability to imagine. Yes, even us seniors still imagine and a great book like yours, let's us indulge. Thank you, so very much.
GRAVELLE, DON - INDIGO WEBSITE