OK, Mr. Field by Katharine Kilalea

OK, Mr. Field

Katharine Kilalea

OK, Mr. Field is a strange and beguiling novel that dwells in the unbridgeable distance between two people.

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A mesmerizing debut novel about a concert pianist who fears he is losing his mind

Mr. Field wants a new life, a life cleansed of the old one’s disappointments. A concert pianist on the London scene, his career is upended when the train he is travelling on crashes into the wall at the end of a tunnel. The accident splinters his left wrist, jeopardizing his musical ambitions. On a whim, he uses his compensation pay-out to buy a house he has seen only once in a newspaper photograph, a replica of Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye on a stretch of coast outside Cape Town. Together with his wife, Mim, Mr. Field sets out in the hope that the house will make him happier, or at least less unhappy. 

But as time passes, the house—which Le Corbusier designed as "a machine for living"—begins to have a disturbing effect on Mr. Field. Its narrow windows educate him in the pleasures of frustrated desire. Its sequence of spaces, which seem to lead toward and away from their destinations at once, mirror his sense of being increasingly cut off from the world and from other people. When his wife inexplicably leaves him, Mr. Field can barely summon the will to search for her. Alone in the decaying house, he finds himself unglued from reality and possessed by a longing for a perverse kind of intimacy.

OK, Mr. Field
is a strange and beguiling novel that dwells in the silences between words, in the gaps in conversation, and in the unbridgeable distance between any two people. Through her restless intelligence and precise, musical prose, Katharine Kilalea confidently guides us into new fictional territory.


Advance Galley Reviews

A British concert pianist moves to South Africa after a career ending injury. I found this novel to just be more complex than the energy I was willing to give to it. Perhaps if I had found the protagonist a bit more likeable and engaging, I would have felt more desire to understand his world. Sadly this was a DNF for me.

I frankly don't know how to feel about this book. At it's base, the story is about a British concert pianist who is injured in an accident and goes to South Africa to convalesce thereafter. From there, however, the story is not truly a linear story with a plot but a dreamlike sequence of imaginings, obsession, and sadness. I felt like at times I became a bit lost in what was happening because of the structure of the book. And I don't feel it truly had a conclusion. I did, however, love the prose, which is beautiful to read. I suspect this is a book that would deepen with re-reading.

"OK, Mr. Field" is a novel about a concert pianist whose hand is injured in a bad accident and who uses his compensation for said injury to buy a house in South Africa where he can escape and try to come to terms with his life. Katherine Kilalea's prose is beautiful, but the lyricism of her words and the unhappiness of Mr. Field make for a slow and depressing read. This novel is definitely not a book for summer reading unless one is in a reflective mood. Thank you to Penguin's First To Read program for introducing me to a new author.

Spending a month with this novel was like spending time with a very ill friend. This story, such as it is, reads more like a poem at times and at others, like a chapter out of the Patrick Melrose series, minus the drugs. (The author has a poem in fact, which if you read it, you’ll recognize the theme). See: http://www.manifold.group.shef.ac.uk/... Mr. Field is a former concert pianist, sidelined by injury. He impulsively spends his accident compensation on a house by the sea near Capetown, South Africa. The home is a replica of the famous (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret’s) Villa Savoye in France and Mr. Field’s new home sits high atop a hill overlooking the sea. Because of the way the house is designed - helpful here to follow #villasavoye on instagram for interior/exterior views of the real Villa Savoye - the horizontal windows allow a for a limited view of land and sky. The house is a central character in this story and as Mr. Field sinks into depression the house falls into disrepair, as these things go. The tale is a gloomy one; a man sunk deep into a lethargic haze,- his wife has thrown in the towel at one point early on and moved back to England - his ability to play the piano hampered by his now deformed hand, his malaise like a security blanket he drags with him everywhere. Much of the story is devoted to heavy introspection - shades of Virginia Woolf. Mr. Field devotes his days to listening to nearby construction, sleeping, lounging, bathing, driving around, all supplementally narrated by the voices in his head of first his wife, than a woman he met when he first moved in with whom he becomes obsessed. The house is by turn, confining and comforting, supportive and destructive and ultimately limits his view of reality. Fortunately Ms. Kilalea’s writing is wonderful and the despair is tempered with wry, comic insight. A study of acute loneliness, Ok, Mr. Field is an uncomfortable look at how close the walls can get, how near to madness a life lived alone can be. By the end, you are as unsure of Mr. Field’s future as he is but happy he got a dog. Thank you to Penguin Random House FIRST TO READ for this digital ARC in exchange for a candid review.

What is the novel about? It does not matter. This one is all voice: adrift, floating, moving in space with such smoothness that you don't realize the narrative is moving. The protagonist is a concert pianist after a debiliating injury. The novel takes place in his scattered thoughts. The prose is remarkable. Mr. Field has taken his settlement post-injury and moved to South Africa with his wife, who leaves him but it takes a while for you to realize she's gone. Yet you don't mind, the not-knowing, because the words are so lovely you aren't following the arc of the story but letting the words wash over you like the sea. In time, he becomes obsessed with the widow of the architect who designed his house. They have conversations in his head, imaginary chats, delightful talks that feel real but we all know it's just his imagination. The obsession becomes stronger and drives him to act in bizarre ways that fit what has gone before. This one is not for everyone, and if you're looking for a story to get lost in, this won't do. This is a piece of writing that you can fall into like a soft feather bed, more poetry than prose, a journey into a character's head when said character may not be altogether of sound mind.

This week I read Ok, Mr. Field by Katharien Kilalea. I was provided a copy of this book to read by Penguin Random House. This does not effect my review in any way, as always my thoughts on this book are my own and not influenced by the publisher. Ok, Mr. Field is about a concert pianist who gets injured in a car accident and is unable to continue to play the piano. After the accident Mr. Field purchases a house by the sea and then proceeds to do absolutely nothing. For the entirety of this book Mr. Field wanders around his house, watches some construction that is taking place next door, and goes for drives. He does creepily stalk the prior owner of his house but it's the most uneventful stalking ever written because all he does is stand around outside her window. I kept expecting something, anything to happen but nothing does. Since there's no conflict, there's also no resolution and I walked away from this book feeling like I had just wasted my time. Luckily it was pretty short so there wasn't a lot of time involved. Some of the author's descriptions and prose are truly beautiful. She certainly has a way with words, but all the beautiful phrasing in the world can't make up for a book in which nothing occurs. Not that there weren't opportunities for conflict (Mr. Field's wife leaves him, he stalks his home's former owner) but the author doesn't take the opportunity to use them. The most exciting thing that happens in the novel happens near the end when Mr. Field chases his dog around the house because it chewed up a notebook. *snore* If you're looking for something to help put you to sleep Okay, Mr. Field is going to be available on shelves July 17th. I recommend looking elsewhere for something to take with you on vacation.

I could not get involved in this book and I was surprised. The character is not likeable and it is hard to follow the storyline. I hate to write a bad review, but I did not enjoy this book.

I was an able to read this book. I tried several different digital readers and every time I tried to download it I would get an error message. All of the other books I have read have downloaded fine so I am not sure what the problem is with this book.

I rarely give up on a book, but despite trying several times, I just couldn't get into this one. Read almost half of it, but was still confused and not sure where it was going or why.

I read this book and liked the lyricism of the writing, however could not even begin to care about, or understand why Mr Field needed a book. I did not like this book and found it to be dull and to have to purpose. Thanks for the ARC, First to Read.

I am disappointed to report that I could not read this one - I read ebooks on kindle and when I ran the file through my translator program (ePubor Ultimate, which usually works perfectly) it rendered it unreadable. Every other line is the continuation of the line before it - if that makes sense. If I can get a kindle-friendly copy I would be happy to give it another go, otherwise it was too difficult to read and I found it impossible to follow the story by back-and-forth line reading...

Sorry to say I didn't enjoy this book. Mr. Field (no first name) is a pianist whose career is ended by an accident that permanently damages his wrist. He uses the compensation he receives for the accident to buy a decrepit house in Cape Town. The house is full of mosquitos and spiders the size of ping pong balls. At some point after the move from London to the new house, his wife Mim drives off, never to be heard from again. Since we learn nothing about Nim, and don't even get a physical description of her, it's hard to form an opinion of her leaving. However, my guess would be that it was because Mr Field is one of most boring people on the planet. "I thought of Mim, but not often. I missed her, but in an ordinary way. I didn't pine for her. I didn't miss her in the way you're meant to miss someone you love." Field doesn't try to find his wife, find useful employment or do anything at all except sink into insanity. He fixates on the elderly former owner of his house, imagines conversations with her and eventually stalks her. Then he gets a dog. Poor dog. This book is so dull and pointless that I expect that it will start winning awards, because that's the way it seems to go with insufferable literature. I finished the book only because it is very short. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

I didn’t really connect with the main character, Mr. Field. I can see through the writing style that we’re meant to be experiencing his break with reality, but I found that I didn’t care whether he went round the bend, or turned the corner and recovered. And we truly don’t get a definitive answer. It was much too choppy and disconnected for my taste.

Life has a way of quickly changing, forcing you to redirect your focus. When a concert pianist suffers a sudden wrist injury in OK, Mr. Field by Katharine Kilalea, he takes aim for a new direction in his life. Concert pianist Mr. Field has his career thrown asunder when a train accident injures his wrist, compromising his musical ability. Buying a house in Cape Town, he and his wife Mim embark on a new chapter in their lives, seeking a new purpose, which they believe will contribute to their happiness - or a stasis to their level of acceptance of life's offerings. After Mim leaves him, Mr. Field contemplates various topics sequestered from society from within his strange house, whose construction and existence seems to provoke deeper thought, as his reality shifts with his circumstances.   Though quick to read and offering a good representation of and insight to internal dialogue and the distance that exists between even those people who are meant to be closely aligned, this novel meanders from topic to topic without much clarity provided to connect the thoughts. The language is well-crafted in an artistic manner throughout the novel and offers poignant concepts that resonate, but due to a seeming lack of narrative focus or direction, the power behind these concepts lacks a meaningful and lasting heft; perhaps if this were presented as more of a collection of interrelated vignettes and not a novel, this could be crafted into something more cohesively commanding.  Overall, I'd give it a 3 out of 5 stars.

This book is so well written, I love the style. It's a great insight into others internal dialogue during an exitensial crisis. I am going to order a copy!

 


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