Greetings from the Ethereal Plane,
Very rarely, readers are presented with a work that will not only stand the test of time, but also ingrain itself deeply into our thoughts while forcing us to question the very beliefs and notions we have come to accept as the truth. I Am the River is a breathtaking epic that latches itself to your subconscious, drives its literary fingers into your eye sockets, and plunges your brain into the bottomless depths of insanity. From the opening chapter, the novel teleports the reader into a hallucinogenic nightmare anchored by guilt and paranoia. It would be easy for Grau’s underlining themes of retribution and the political aspects of invasion and slaughter to appear patronizing, but the author stunningly executes his craft as he always has, ensuring the ride through a war-wrought, existential journey is believable and traumatizing. I Am the River isn’t about the Vietnam War, but rather the effects that violence and loss of oneself can have. This wonderfully contrasts with themes of mysticism, spiritual exodus, and the true, terrifying nature of man.
The novel doesn’t shy from the brutality of war, the indistinguishable line between good and evil in uncontrollable moments of violence. Grau ties concrete slabs to his feet as he presses the gas pedal into a kaleidoscopic tunnel of nightmares and mythical imagery. Our protagonist is beautifully fleshed out, until his every word and thought breathes from the page. Broussard is written in the best of ways, his moral ambiguity and broken personality providing a main character who is not only interesting, but incredibly entertaining as well. Grau switches between past and present, first and third person, tactfully guaranteeing that our own sense of disorientation will match that of Broussard’s.
With varying stylistic choices in prose, cliff-hanger filled chapters, and a climax that is certain to produce the most vivid of nightmares, Grau has produced the first great novel of 2018. A masterclass work of art that stretches its reach into multiple themes, encompasses the very nature of war, the chaos that was the Vietnam War, and unifies a work of literature with transcendental, thought-provoking motifs. Dark fiction’s most promising young voice delivers his greatest work yet with I Am the River, asserting his position on a throne of nightmares and literary horror. The way that Grau personifies bedlam and disorder into every line, every paragraph, is mind-boggling and incredible. It would be a disservice to call I Am the River a novel. If anything, the most deserving classification for this work would be that of an experience.
Grau’s implementation of the Vietnam War is metaphorically tied to the dread and heart-wrenching ramifications of our most sinful memories. Broussard’s journey is defined by his guilt, the author’s vivid descriptions and morose prose vilifying horror in a way that is personal, even intimate. With each page, we are thrust into this world, our own grasp on sanity teetering between reality and oblivion. Grau writes like a man who experienced these events firsthand, someone who is merely retelling the atrocities. Poetic and swelling with innovative styles, the language carries itself much like a river rushing downstream. Only this waterfall leads to skeletons instead of rocks. Fire instead of water. Death rather than life.
We have no doubt that I Am the River will join the likes of The Fisherman by John Langan, in regards to its position amongst modern heavyweights. If you haven’t pre-ordered the paperback yet, we strongly advise you to do so. This novel is going to make waves in the horror community and it’s going to cement T.E. Grau as one of the best authors working today.
T.E. Grau is the author of dozens of stories and other written works, including the books They Don’t Come Home Anymore, Triptych: Three Cosmic Tales, The Lost Aklo Stories, The Mission, and The Nameless Dark, which was nominated for a 2015 Shirley Jackson Award for Single-Author Collection, and ranks as the bestselling book published by Lethe Press in both 2015 and 2016. His most recent work is the novel I Am The River, which will be published in mid-2018 by Lethe Press. Grau lives in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter, and is currently working on his second collection and first novel.
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