Corey Basalt
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Buy *Avalanche* online


Corey Basalt
168 pages
October 2000
rated 1 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Books typically fall into various broad categories: mystery, science fiction, history, and the catch-all, fiction. Avalanche straddles several genres, which isn't bad, but nowhere does this debut release pay true homage to any of these areas. The first chapter resonates with a horror/evil beast feel; chapter two bespeaks a detective/who-done-it sensibility. Ensuing chapters bring in elements of psychology, history, and romance novels. The overriding tone is confusion.

Compounding this bastardization is the author's inability to find a central voice - it is impossible to understand from which character the story is being unveiled. The key figure, a professor accused of killing a young woman, is in jail. He relates his story to a court-appointed lawyer, and the point of view jumps from real time to a flashback perspective, to third person, to the lawyer, and back again. Because elementary grammatical symbols - quotation marks - are either missing or worse, placed haphazardly all over the page, the POV is even more obscured.

Single quote marks run rampant and when you think you're reading actual dialogue, you are only being presented with simple narrative.

On top of this, the focal character is not the most magnetic presence. The secondary figure, the mysterious and mesmerizing Hannah, is the key personality, but she is relegated to a sort of flashback fantasy and never allowed to grow within the reader's mind.

The sad and perplexing element is that the book is sitting on a motherlode of an idea: a professor and teaching assistant [Hannah] embark on a trek of the Alps. The girl succumbs to a terrible fall and the professor is forced to rescue her. The only way she might be saved is if he extricates her from a glacial prison - and the only way this can be accomplished is by amputating her leg. Without benefit of saw or other instrument, he is forced to actually cannibalize her and, with his own incisors, eat through her leg.

A horrifying concept to be sure, but a unique one. Out of the 121 pages, only two or three pages are given over to this stomach-turning escapade. And then, we never know if the woman lives or dies. The information is so couched in bad prose that it's impossible to ascertain the outcome.

Spelling errors, the butchering of grammatical symbols, and no clear vision of what she wanted this book to represent are only a few of the problems the author ran into. Somewhere in Corey Basalt, a novel of substance resides, but this is not it. The book opens with, "Abraded skin, bits of dried, clotted blood, a curious sweetness he recalled dimly, assailed the senses of his inquiring tongue." Haunting and original. But a book must be comprised of 121 pages of perfect pitch and not just a line thrown in here and there.

Basalt has the tools - now she needs to learn how to use them.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. Steven Rosen, 2004

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