The Glasswalker, by M. Abrahamson

the-glasswalker-by-m-abrahamson coverGenre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Morris Publishing
Published: 2002
Reviewer Rating: half star
Book Review by James Michael White

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Rarely has a worse book been written, and never has a worse one been read. Lest that seem unfair, let me hasten to add that rarely have I ever felt that by reading a particular book I was wasting my time, yet unequivocally The Glasswalker single-handedly inspires such feeling. Only eight pages into the book I thought, “my goodness, this looks like it’s going to be a waste of my time.” Two thirds of the way through I realized, “my God, I’m right!”

The nature of my vitriol is of a kind similar to film critic Roger Ebert’s dismay that, for every bad movie he sees, he realizes that not only has his money been wasted, but so have two hours of his life, none of which will ever return.

Abrahamson’s work is described on the back cover as a satirical polemic, but it is also a roman clef touching upon, among others, the Dr. Laura Schlessinger fiasco. The story is told in the form of a journal kept by Judy Reach, a young girl who lives in a future populated solely by females, and this little girl belongs to a growing group of folks who like walking upon broken glass, a practice that becomes the centerpiece of the novel’s dramatic focus as it becomes increasingly accepted by a society that values non-judgement and acceptance of just about everything except the “Cleaners,” who represent morality in its more-or-less present-day fashion.

Certainly there is an idea for what could have been an entertaining satire here, poking lacerating fun at congruent trends in modern society in which various interest groups attempt to impose their world views upon everyone else, but Abrahamson’s approach is so monotonal in its drubbing of a single problem (unwillingness to make accurate logical or moral judgements), that it comes across as shrill, hysterical, shallow.

The story lashes out against numerous targets sharing the same fault, which makes for a very long and repetitious tale functioning not at all like a literary bolero building more and more upon a common theme to deliver a smashing and wonderful finale, but instead functioning like an agonizing repetition and tedious cataloging of all the ways people can go wrong when logical and moral judgments are never made; this is all delivered with the subtlety of a 2×4 whack across the skull. This 2×4 whacking continues well past “yeah, we get it already.” Two hundred and eight-eight pages are expended to deliver a single-issue diatribe that could be handled successfully at short story lengths.

Furthermore, the very look of what is printed on the novel’s pages is indicative of its shrill and very likely self-published nature: lots of things are printed ALL IN CAPITAL LETTERS, and much is PRINTED IN ITALICS, TOO, and still more appears in BOLD LETTERS. Such frequent excursions into the printer’s style box makes the work tiresome to read and depletes the effectiveness of each of the different text styles. It also bespeaks a lack of confidence in the power of the writing itself to effectively convey the emotional necessity of those stylistic choices. Still more could be said about the number of line-editing and layout flaws, but deeper problems exist in the work than line editing or typesetting can fix.

The Glasswalker simply fails to entertain.

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