I had high expectations of A Song for Leonard and I was not disappointed at all. It tells the story of Charles Bateman and an incident from his past which is unresolved and which comes back to haunt him; however, the re-haunting, if it can be called that, is done by invitation really as Bateman is very much the pursuer of his own truth after being forced into this somewhat by circumstance. He returns to New York, where it happened, an Englishman who has been away for years and explores the site of the trauma at his own volition. He has gaps in his knowledge and when he is faced with the prospect of not being able to leave New York, he decides that it is time for him to come to terms with a black period from his past and all that that may rain down on him.
The narrative is told in two threads: Charles’ memories of the past are told in the first person and these are being written down in the present as an aide memoire to sieve through what he can remember, to glean the truth. In the present, set in 1996, Charles’ story is told in the third person and we are privy to his thoughts and impressions as events unfold.
Fabler is a great storyteller. I was fully in the story at all times and had a clear idea of characters throughout, especially Charles who is a flawed hero, perhaps a bit selfish in his pursuit of what pleases him but ostensibly, a good man with more moral sense than those around him. He is juxtaposed with others who claim to be acting on the side of Good but use it as a means to control and subjugate. Fabler takes us to clubs, to seedy tenement blocks, to corruption and it is all rather entertaining from a fiction reader’s viewpoint as it was engaging throughout and easy to read.
Books like this are what good fiction is all about – they take you off somewhere new with characters with whom you can gain an emotional response – you can recognise or dislike or root for, or other – and the events are fully realised so that your immersion in the story is complete.
Fabler is definitely on my “Writers to Return to” list – a very good read indeed.
This review was first published on Reedsy Discovery where I was privileged to read it as an ARC.