Questions of Loss and Grief Written in Sky Blue
- Brian Palmer Infuze Magazine
- 2007 10 Oct
Author: Travis Thrasher
Title: Sky Blue
Publisher: Moody Publishers
What do you do when the unthinkable happens? When someone you love is taken away from you in a most horrible manner, is there any way to come back from that? How on earth do you truly heal and overcome your grief? These are only a few of the questions that protagonist Colin Scott has to deal with in Travis Thrasher's latest offering, Sky Blue.
Colin is a successful but jaded literary agent. He and his wife Jen are struggling in their marriage, partly because they cannot have children and partly because her work on various movie sets keeps her as busy as Colin's publishing work does. There is a serious disconnect between the two when we are first introduced to them, with tension seemingly around every corner.
Deciding that a break from their lives is in order, the two of them take a trip to Cancun. They eat, enjoy the scenery, make love, laugh; everything is going swimmingly. But when they go parasailing one day and the line breaks while Jen is in the air, tragedy strikes and Colin crumbles.
From this point, we follow Colin through a series of events as he attempts to get his life in order. He is trying to land the biggest deal in the publishing world for its hottest commodity, Vivian Brown, who is stepping out on a limb with her newest effort; a man claiming to have written the next great American novel literally stalks Colin wherever he goes; Colin himself tries to continue working on his and Jen's unfinished dream house; and oh yeah, Jen is still calling him, writing him and sending him e-mails.
Sky Blue has an appealing structure to it. Told from Colin's perspective, the novel at times reads more like a diary than anything else: long entries here, two-sentence entries there, all while maintaining a strong narrative thread which lets the reader know as much about the plot as it does about Colin's increasingly frazzled mental state. And for the literary buffs out there, every chapter is named after a noteworthy novel (kudos to you if you can identify the author of each—I couldn't). Even when Colin is being negative and sullen—which he often is—you're drawn into the story by his honesty.
Colin's character is fleshed out significantly as the story goes on: from his desperate attempts to find meaning in publishing, to his borderline fanatic desire to keep working on his house even when he no longer has the money to do it; from his insatiable yearning for his dead wife, to the enthusiasm with which he soon begins corresponding with her, the reader gets to see his every high and low, the latter of which far outweighs the former.
Early on, I felt like I was reading a novel version of Jerry Maguire. The notion of a jaded agent searching for meaning in a world of money-hungry sharks is not exactly a fresh plotline, and the quest Colin soon embarks on to find purpose in his life and in writing is warranted if not original either. But since this book stops far short of "Show me the money!" so to speak, this is not such a bad thing. Familiar, but not bad.
What we learn in Sky Blue, apart from experiencing the almost inevitable crossroads of considering what are we doing with our lives and if any of it really matters, is one man's desire to hold onto something everyone says he should let go of. Most of us can likely identify with this, and despite how odd and perhaps unhealthy Colin's obsession with his dead wife seems, there's something to be said for holding onto something or someone—even if it's just a dream. Sometimes what seems like a dream to everyone else, is only real to those who can truly see. Even as he is completely falling apart, Colin in some sense is stronger than everyone else around him because he has the capability to do what others would not be able to do.
Sky Blue entertains, it makes you think and it makes you feel. It also has a heck of a twist too. It's a bit like reading the finish of Orson Scott Card's spectacular Ender's Game—you'll likely have to chew on the ending for a while before you can appreciate or even accept it. But I promise you, it's worth it.
© 2007 Infuze Magazine. All rights reserved. Used with permission.