I’m a snob.
I mean it. It takes very little to pull me out of a story. If my holier-than-thou judgement determines the given writing to be anything less than the product of blood, sweat, and tears having been poured over every comma, every metaphor, every single infinitesimal decision throughout the piece, then I’m going to cast judgement every step of the way. Who am I to judge? I’m no one. I’m just a snob.
No such snobbery was exercised during my reading of Mona Kabbani’s The Bell Chime.
It’s not often I find myself chuckling with awe-filled disbelief at so many tiny decisions made by an author. When I do, when I find another writer’s work not only silencing that unrelenting little editor in my head – the one who won’t cease his incessant corrections whenever I sit down to read the written word – but also stunning him, it feels pretty damned good.
I know this assessment will come across as elitist, as if I reside on some lofty cloud to which only a few pieces of writing can ever hope to ascend. That’s not it. Trust me, I know I’m simply an unqualified snob. But Mona’s novella was infused with such blatant honesty, such bleeding, such TRUTH, that I’d be doing myself, her, and you lot a dishonesty if I gave anything other than my sincere thoughts on the matter.
The Bell Chime is being praised by voices far more able and eloquent than I, and there’s really not much I can add besides my promise that all that praise is so, so utterly justified. I for one will be rather intrigued to see where this author goes, and will have a lot of rage-fuelled rants to offer if she ends up anywhere other than where this particular piece suggests she should: as high as an author can go.
If you want tragedy, terror, poetry, and words quite clearly strained from the very bleeding wounds of a writer who communicates it all through a non-linear, perfectly plotted outing into insanity, then The Bell Chime is for you.
Yeah, it’s pretty good.
p.s. I’d like to give a special shout-out to Andi Brotten, the designer Mona cites in the acknowledgements section. This is one of the most striking, artistic covers I’ve seen in a long time. Also Spencer, the one to have ‘wiped the grime off’ the book, as Mona put it. I have an almost transcendental respect for skilled editing, and this thing is a masterclass in said discipline. Great job.