Although it’s not apparent at first, volume 19 is another book in the ‘Rusty Brown’ series. This time, it focuses solely on W. K. Brown: everything is related to him, from the opening science fiction tale to the closing short story and everything in between.
In this one, we get beyond Brown’s loneliness and yearning and dig deep into his heartache and sense of loss. We discover that it’s all rooted in his young adult life and that much of what’s happened to him afterwards is rooted in those pivotal moments.
I could totally relate to the character’s projections on someone else, of investing all his hopes and dreams into another person, and then realizing that it was but a daydream – albeit a very vivid waking dream fuelled by wishful thinking. Ware brought that across effectively.
It’s a bit heartbreaking to watch Brown channel so much of his pain into his work and spend so much time trying to escape his impression that his whole life was a waste, that all of it centered on one wasted moment he could never hope to relive or reclaim. But it also feels real, true to life; this happens to people.
The art and the storytelling, interlinked as they are, were amazing; Ware was in top form on this book. His opening science fiction tale was original, imaginative and resonant. As disturbing as it got, one could easily see how desperation could lead someone astray like this.
While Ware was writing that opening part in Brown’s voice, it still felt like his own in some ways, the key difference being the anger that Brown spews into it. I’m not sure if this was just a vehicle for Ware to do something different, but it was a nice touch and I found it to be a perfect opening to this book.
This is one of my favourites of Ware’s. I suspect that I might even rate it higher if not for the fact that I’ve read so many of his books that his approach is no longer novel. If this had been my first one, it’s quite likely that I would have been wowed even more. The guy is brilliant.