Thirty-Three Cecils by Everett De Morier/ REVIEWED By: SHAUN CURRAN

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In the early nineties I read Jurassic Park, about a year before the movie came out, and I was mesmerized by ‘The Ingen Incident,’ the opening chapter of the novel. Being young, I was unable to realize that the chapter, written in journalistic style, complete with real locations and believable names and titles, was fiction. When I was an adult, I read it again, and found myself with the same issue.

One famous quote about books goes like this: “A good book makes you want to live in the story. A great book gives you no choice.” I am not sure who said this, and neither is anyone else, judging from the anonymous the quote is attributed to, but in Thirty-three Cecils, author Everett De Morier has crafted a world that is as believable as the one we live in, one filled with life, death, and those innocuous blunders that can forever alter the course of our lives.

The framework on Thirty-three Cecils is remarkably simple: the author discovers that journals he has purchased at a yard sale belong to two famous individuals: Walker Roe and Riley Dutcher. The details regarding how these journals wound up at a yard sale, force you to pause every few pages and remind yourself you are reading a work of fiction (though I prefer to live in the fantasy world. Much more interesting than reality).

The story then unfolds as a series of journal entries. “Journals are personal accounts of thoughts and emotions, and it would be impossible to view the events these journals describe in any other way than directly through the individual writing styles and the words of the two men who wrote them” (xiii). Using this framework allows for limited first-person perspective of the individual’s point of view. The individual journaling has no idea what will take place a week from then; he writes in day-to-day operations. When Roe’s best friend dies, he embarks on a series of almost automated actions to cope with the loss, which result in suspicion, since his friend left him a sizeable inheritance, though this was never communicated. The loss of a friend, a loved one, a sibling, a daughter, all have tremendous impact on us, and we may say or do things while feeling for some resemblance of reality, some way of making sense of the disaster that has befallen us, that may appear unusual or suspicious. The journals are raw and bare, the way they should be, revealing utterly depressed souls that scream for release or Prozac.

Yet De Morier spins a tale within a tale, explaining a story about thirty three people who have the name Cecil visiting the same town one afternoon. The mayor is excited and says the town will be of extreme importance if a hundred people named Cecil come to town that day. The number stops and thirty-three and the townsfolk are disappointed. The mayor and the people of the town had taken something rare and instead of appreciating it turned it into a disaster.

The second man, Dutch, is a drifter, and has lived a life of seemingly no consequence, drinking away his life, his marriage, and any form of self-respect. However, when he crosses paths with Roe, and after an incident which leaves Roe in a wheelchair and Dutch a hero, the two men realize that their crossing lives is owed to far more than just coincidence.



©January Gray and January Gray Reviews, 2016.
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