This book will tear your heart.
Spill Simmer Falter Wither is described in a lot of reviews as being about a relationship between a man and his dog.
That is not what this book is about at all.
Ray’s relationship with OneEye is only a part of the story. For a while I thought the dog may be entirely imaginary.
This book is about loneliness. It’s about abandonment. It’s about craving parental approval and coming back for more disappointment. And it does not offer redemption.
Spill Simmer Falter Wither is a mondegreen for spring, summer, fall, winter, and the book covers one year in Ray’s life, after the death of his father and his new relationship with OneEye. They live together in Ray’s house until an incident compels Ray to pack up his small car and take to life on the road with his only companion.
Baume’s writing is poetry. It’s subtle, terse, often sparse, but each detail is full of meaning. There is a heavy sense of place, and Ray’s place in the universe, or lack thereof, comes through in his interactions with the people he encounters and his vicarious freedom through OneEye. At first everything seems happy-go-lucky, but slowly and indirectly Ray’s sadness and rage begin to show. If you take up this book, give it the time it deserves. Don’t read this on the beach, or at the playground, or in five-minute snippets. Every word is there for a reason, and if you’re hurried, you will miss something of devastating importance.
This book is eerie and beautiful. There is a disquieting sense of foreboding that carries through the story, with a culmination that will leave you breathless.