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

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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