There is something very comforting about returning to David Seaburn’s fiction for me. His books give to me the same feeling that I get from wearing a well worn-in pair of shoes and, whilst it may not sound it, this is a high compliment from me: you know that you are in for a comfortable and safe time which will not rankle or chafe; you will feel enclosed in a world which is well-shaped and crafted with thought; when you reach the end, you don’t really like the feeling of separation as it has been an experience of support, warmth and comfort.
Seaburn’s book Give Me Shelter provides all of this and for me was a really good read. Set in Ellwood at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the book is centred on Willie, a sixth grader, and his close family, friends and neighbours, during what must have been an intense time, not only in America but also around the world. Willie already has worries and is particularly anxious about what he sees on the news as well as the air raid sirens that regularly pierce the day to attune the populace into awareness of what they may have to face should things escalate. Willie lives with his Pop, Hal to others, who is trying his best to guide Willie and his brother, Denny through life, their parents having died in what is referred to throughout the book as a tragic accident. The mystery surrounding the circumstances in which WIllie’s parents meet their demise permeates the text and its revealing provides a light on what could be the cause of Willie’s pronounced anxiety.
Seaburn’s style of writing is gentle and intuitive: as a reader, I drifted through the narrative, completely absorbed by the characters, the dialogue, the switching between perspectives. He has the ability to show real everyday human concerns and it is the presentation of these which drives his fiction. Plot is almost secondary to his depiction of people’s lives and the dynamic between them and others and it takes a writer of great perception to accomplish this. However, that being said, there is always a clear purpose in what Seaburn sets out to do – he is an astute and aware writer who guides you through his created world with clarity and conciseness and just the right amount of humour when required.
Read his books.
This review was first published on Reedsy Discovery where I was privileged to read it as an ARC>