Read the Interview with Chris Tomasini!
The subtitle describes this novel as a fairy tale, set in 1400’s Europe. Light fantasy is another term that comes up oh so often with regards to Close Your Eyes. An apt description, seeing as the story’s setting is not a historically authentic one, more of a romanticized version of medieval Europe.
Chris uses a storytelling technique I first noticed with Umberto Eco, where the story is told in first person, but not by the same person the story is meant to be about. Like Adso of Melk tells the story of William of Baskerville in The Name of The Rose, here it is Samuel setting out to chronicle the story of his friend Tycho. And when parts need to be told of which Samuel could not have been a first hand witness, Tycho’s journal is used instead.
I’ve described the setting as romanticized based on the larger than life characters which Chris manages to brings alive between the pages of this book. He does so using Samuel’s voice, which is gentle, warm, caressing. The way Samuel writes about those people makes it clear he cares for them a lot, and there is more to this story than just Tycho (who this story is supposed to be about).
That being said, the gentle voice of our chronist makes for a rather touching read. Action this is clearly not, nor will a lot of exciting things happen. It’s a quiet book, made to be read alone in a cozy atmosphere, touching, moving, sometimes kind of philosophical. It’s the right kind of book to be read during moody autumn sessions.
Talking about mood – I think this stories is best described by one of the riddles that is used within, where the hero of this book is asked whether he would choose the life of a slave, knowing nothing but misery and one hour of love everyday, or the life of a free man, knowing nothing about loss but also nothing about love, eventually dying alone one could winter day.
Aye, it is this kind of story, a well woven one that gets you thinking. What answer would be best? You have to decide for yourself.