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Book Review

Book Cover

Resonance & Revolt

Author: Rosanne Rabinowitz
Publisher: Eibonvale Press
374 pages
RRP: £10.00
ISBN: 978 1 908125 51 4
Publication Date: 01 May 2019

It is somewhat unusual for an author to have a set of short stories set around a central theme, this is usually the stuff of multi-author anthologies.

Rosanne Rabinowitz’s Resonance & Revolt (374 pages) is a set of short stories built around the concept of revolution, either the direct engagement in or as the recipient of the consequences. All of the stories have previously been published in some form or other, except for ‘The Peak’ which is an original piece. All are authored solely by Rabinowitz, except for ‘The Turning Track’ which she co-wrote with Mat Joiner. The book contains sixteen stories and an Afterword by the author.

The book has an introduction by Lynda E. Rucker, who teases out the themes of the collection. The author presents not a single story, as such, but a collection of personal and political upheavals across a wide period of time. The thrust of the stories is to demonstrate that revolution is always around us, we have been formed by previous revolutions and there are yet revolutions to come. What is interesting about her take on the subject is that she often sees this as a positive thing, a chance to experiment and change. Revolution takes many forms and this collection does a good job at covering most forms.

If it could be said that Rabinowitz has set out her manifesto it is in the book's opening story, In ‘The Pines’. The story opens in Georgia, 1875. Here a woman laments the loss of her husband in the wreck of a train, a wreck from which not all his remains were recovered. As she contemplate her life and loss she starts singing a lament.

The longest train I ever saw went down that Georgia line.
The engine was at a six- mile post, the cabin never left town.

In the end the woman flees the town. The story then switches to New Jersey 1973, where Linda is experiencing her own sexual revolution. She falls into the company of some bohemians, one of whom knows the old song and plays it for her. By now the song is old enough that its origins and meaning have been lost in the past, but for some reason it resonates and moves her. Like her predecessor she too ends up disappearing into the pines.

The last section moves forward to Cornwall 2015. Briony and her scientific group are trying to use music to work out revolutionary mathematical principle. She is interviewed by the now older Linda. One of the pieces of music which appears is ‘In the Pines’ the song which has held the three time periods together.

This story demonstrates her desire to not have her stories temporally bound to a particular time or space, but to weave a web unencumbered by these things.

There are stories which take place when a Plantagenet on Britain’s throne. Some of the stories revolts happen on a number of levels. In ‘Bells of the Harelle’, Seraphine is involved in the tax revolts as well as revolting against her personal circumstances. The stories look at poll tax riots, student riots, revolutions both political and personal.

Overall, I really admired that Rabinowitz is able to take eclectic elements and mould them into a whole. She is not afraid to mix the physical with the metaphysical, to occasionally give her stories a dream-like character.


Charles Packer

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