52 Men by Louise Wareham Leonard

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Helllllo readers, hope you’re well and happy on this wonderfully wintery Monday. This month and the next are full of really unique books and I’m tempted to write a post about reviewing different genres of books because all the books I’m reading at the moment contrast so definitely. Today’s for example is a look into the relationships with 52 different men and the different ways that relationships evolve. I’ll stop the babbling and get on with the review.

This is a work of memory and imagination; stories, actions, and events have been changed to protect the living.

If it amounts to anything, besides a depiction of one person’s life, it is a testament to the following sentiment found in an old journal of mine: People think that life is to not get hurt. But life is to be radical.

Recently I’ve been struggling a little with reading; I think it’s that after a really long day coming home, cleaning, cooking, washing, general adult stuff, by the time I come to sit down and read my brain is fried. However, this book is a collection of different stories that are collated together so it’s more of a dip in and out read rather than a long continuous train of thought. Don’t take that the wrong way because this is a beautiful book full of glimpses and descriptions of men that have been described and their stories noted down.

I feel like potentially the title gives the book a different feel that what it really gives but this is more than the telling of 52 stories with different male persons. It’s tales of loss, love, those special moments where we get to get to know different people. I love these types of books because they have to move so quickly; there isn’t a lot of time to get across a certain feeling and the authors skill is really shown in the way that she manages to get so much into each story. I thought the way the stories are strung together almost as like an anthology made a very fluid sense of novel. There is a rhythm and order to the story; it was like opening an advent calendar and meeting the next narrator or the next male. What would they be like? What could I expect?

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I thought there was something more than just tales; the author is brilliant at portraying the awkward moments, the space, if you will, between the characters. With relationships there is often more one way that the other and the give and take of relationships, the waiting the why or why or not is just as important as the describing of a character. I also liked that the stories came across as statements rather than coming of age; it doesn’t feel sad but more documentary in style. There is a second section of the book where the writing is in a more narrative style. It’s a lot longer in longer in length and it appears to tell the story behind the stories of the letters. It’s written in the same lyrical style and helps to round out the end of the story so you’re left with a warm feeling in your stomach.

The writing style throughout is beautiful and languid; it doesn’t move with a lot of action but  instead is a cool and deep feeling of emotion, life, living, regret, love and letters really. My only slight wobble would be that I think that at times it does get a little heavy; I’m not sure I could read larger chunks of this but found it better to dip in and out. I do think the two sections could have been more clearly linked just to really make the connection. They felt a little alienated from one another when it could have felt more linked.

Overall though this is a really lovely read; I thought the stories and the idea was really unique and it was perfect for the style of book I really wanted to read. I can see myself going back and dipping in and out of this and re-reading the tales which really tells how special I found it. Linking the two sections would have led to me feeling more fulfilled at the end but I loved this book for its story telling and I am very happy to have had the chance to read through it.







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