REVIEW by Jeremy Hughes

NWR Issue 99

After Brock

by Paul Binding

The cataphoric qualities of this novel’s opening sentence – ‘The great waterfall gleamed white through the darkness, and he felt himself compelled to climb, to see where it began’ – are a good indication of its fundamental concerns and narrative trajectory. This particular ‘he’ is Nat Kempsey, an A-Level student and aspiring journalist who apparently goes missing near Pistyll Rhaeadr, but it could just as well be his father Pete, who also ‘disappears’ in the same place thirty-odd years before. Nat’s disappearance [spoiler alert!] is a disingenuous attempt to save his father’s specialist business, High Flyers, a shop selling kites in a small Shropshire town, whereas Pete’s disappearance was born out of an infatuation with a more sophisticated and worldly wise boy, Sam. There is a quest for something beyond the characters’ immediate knowledge and a need to understand what that might be. The father and son’s symmetrical experiences provide the main narrative structure. Nat’s story frames the whole, a story which isn’t adding up for the local journalist Luke, who visits to see if he can confirm his suspicions that this boy hasn’t actually been lost. Pete is on hand to protect his son’s interests, sensitive to the fallout from his own misadventure at a similar age...

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