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Review: Oh God, The Sun Goes - David Connor

Updated: Dec 17, 2023


Genre: Literary Fiction, Speculative

Published: Melville House, August 2023 My Rating: 2/5 stars


Have you ever read a book that’s so marmite, that you’re not even sure whether you liked it yourself, let alone how to recommend it to others? Oh God, The Sun Goes was that kind of book for me… It’s an experimental, hallucinatory piece of speculative literature that leans heavy into its extended metaphor. Só far in fact, that it at times tips over onto its back and struggles to upright itself again. Although I didn’t personally love it, it strongly feels like the kind of book that literary critics and expensive-wine-book-clubs will praise to high heavens for its clever devices and intellectual overtones. Fans of a more grounded novel, will likely be less enamored.


Our story opens with a literal world-changing premise: the sun has vanished from the sky, and nobody has been able to explain why it happened. Our unnamed protagonist takes it upon himself to quest for answers. Following a series of clues, gathered from his subconscious mind, as well as a series of eccentric characters he meets along the way, he embarks on a roadtrip across the American deserts. With every strange city he stops at, it becomes clearer that what he’s traversing isn’t simply a landscape but a mindscape too.


If this premise intrigues you, and if you enjoy a bit of an existential puzzle; stop reading this review and pick up the book. It’s a short read that you’ll fly through, and has a unique feel to it. The closest comp-title I can come up with is Shadowbahn by Steve Ericson, and even that’s not quite it.

In order to explain some of the elements that didn’t work for me, however, I have to get into spoiler-territory.


Spoilers:

As is heavily hinted at in the synopsis; the entire novel is an extended metaphor for loss. The missing “sun” isn’t really the Sun, and the journey is a reflection of the protagonists mind, processing a major event. Although that premise has great potential, I felt it remained too gimmicky and lacked the depth to resonate emotionally.

The author clearly enjoys showing off his knowledge of brain-anatomy; cities/burrows we stop at are “Amygdala”, “Hippocampus”, “Wernicke’s area” etc. Each of these chapters relate in some way to the function of that specific brain-part. There’s even an appendix at the end of the book in which all these references are explained, in case functional anatomy isn’t your daily bread and butter. To me, this approach divides the audience into two camps, neither of which will be happy. On the one hand, these references are going to fly clear over many readers heads, and your appendix at the end is going to be too little too late to help that. On the other hand, to readers who are familiar with it, the presentation isn’t nearly as clever as the author thinks it is, and there’s bound to be a few eyerolls at the pseudo-intellectualism of it all.

In my opinion, a book with this premise can take either one of two approaches towards success: go for emotional depth with the loss-story-line, or go the gimmicky route and be self-aware about it. Connor does neither: there’s too little development of the characters to relate to our protagonists grief, but the book is too overwritten and takes itself too serious to be enjoyed for its fun gimmick. Also, dear God, do not get me started on the writing during that one sex-scene. That thing is truly atrociously overwritten and almost had me give up on the book.


Overall, I appreciate the authors originality and willingness to take a risk. I can see it being a new favourite for a certain audience, but I don’t think I’m personally among it.


Many thanks to Melville Publishing for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

You can find this book here on Goodreads.

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