Title: The Goodbye Song
Author: Karl Kristian Flores
Publication date: April 30, 2021
One Sentence Summary: Snippets of life told through various mediums.
The Goodbye Song is a different sort of fiction. It’s similar to a short story collection in that no one character is followed and each piece offers a snippet of someone’s life. But it really focuses on the human experience, on giving a voice to different individuals with different sets of experiences, wants, needs, and circumstances. This is a collection of 10 sonnets, 10 entries, 10 definitions, etc. They’re unique and offer much food for thought. I did find this book to feel both naive and jaded, but it’s still beautifully written and can offer so much to many different kinds of readers.
Told through a variety of formats, from sonnets to recipes to scripts to letters, The Goodbye Song offers a close examination of the different lives real people might live. Every single entry is a different look into a specific point of time in someone’s life, into what they’re feeling and experiencing. It’s rich and real, and often sobering.
The Goodbye Song is not my usual type of read, but I was drawn to how different it was. I do like different, and this struck me as very different. In some ways, it reminded me of a collection of short stories, but, overall, I think that’s wrong. It’s a collection of experiences, of people who may or may not exist. It’s an up close and personal look at how people live in a specific moment. It dives deep into the human experience in a myriad of formats, all of which has the potential to resonate with different readers.
No matter how short or how long any particular piece was, it still offered a look into the mind and experience of someone who may or may not be real. But they all felt real, all their emotions and life situations. I liked that this one book was able to offer so many views into different walks of life, of so many different viewpoints. As no one character is followed, it’s easy to feel a bit disconnected from the individual telling their story, but easy to connect to the feelings they have the power to evoke. I won’t even pretend to have understood all the poetry as it’s not my cup of tea at all, but even I could get a strong sense to the feelings behind it, of what Flores was trying to convey.
Every piece offered in The Goodbye Song is striking in its own way. I really enjoyed how the experiences, the situations, were all different from each other, but they all still showed a very human side. Young and old are depicted and given a voice. While I had to read quickly due to personal time constraints, I believe The Goodbye Song is best consumed in small bites over time to allow the reader to ruminate and consider the words and emotions offered to them.
As serious and revealing as each piece is, though, I was struck by how the book as a whole felt both naive and jaded. I think that, if I had read this ten or so years ago when I was fresh out of college, I would have been bowled over by the strength in every single piece. They would have been nuggets of wisdom and insights into human nature. But, being a bit older than that and having lived life a bit more, some of it also struck me as a bit naive and some as a bit jaded. It was hard to find a middle ground between them, so, as much as I enjoyed reading it, there wasn’t much I personally could take from it.
What I took away the most, though, was an almost overwhelming sense of loneliness. Even when there were small groups or pairs and they were speaking to each other, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of loneliness. Each of them were alone in their experiences, each of them keeping a quiet heart. Most of the pieces are told from deep within someone’s mind, so it’s sometimes sad, sometimes overwhelming, sometimes aching, and often lonely.
Reading about Flores’ life, though, was very revealing and helped me understand what he had written. In the end, I can’t help but think The Goodbye Song is him baring his soul, opening his mind, and offering to readers the world he sees. It’s beautiful the way he’s able to put himself and how he sees the world in so many different ways into this book. There’s a beautiful, lyrical quality to the writing, and I often felt like I was reading his soul. There’s so much heart in this.
Overall, The Goodbye Song is a deep, thoughtful read meant to be savored. It has much to offer readers and, as he states at the beginning of the book, readers are free to take what they need and leave behind what they don’t. This book offers up the human experience in its many different forms.
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Thank you to Karl Kristian Flores for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.
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