In honor of Carellin Brooks’s latest release, One Hundred Days of Rain, I chose an overcast weekend for which drizzle as well as thunderstorms were predicted to cozy up with my e-reader. I considered myself fortunate to have no pressing time commitments or obligations and donned my most comfortable pair of jeans so that I might fully embrace her story of lost love. However, in spite of my best intentions at cultivating a calm mind and tender heart, I found myself enduring one of the most tiresome literary experiences in recent memory.
Given the ninety-nine chapters in which the various qualities of rain are explored, it’s probably safe to assume that Brooks was invested in utilizing her allusions to precipitation metaphorically. Constant but ever-changing, one can easily draw parallels between the rain and the unnamed author’s suffering, which may have had a bit more impact had the resulting prose poem not been so undeniably tedious.
After the demise of her marriage with M, the narrator finds herself navigating the day-to-day post-breakup challenges of finding an apartment, reporting her income to the courts and changing buses multiple times in order to get her bicycle to the repair shop as well as more monumental stressors, including a brief stint in jail and the devising of arrangements (among herself, M and the child’s father) pertaining to the custody and visitation of her five-year-old son. Unfortunately, the nonstop mention of rain dampens any of the rawness one might expect to feel in the midst of sorrow. Rather than enhancing the melancholy, the predominant literary device employed completely detracts from the heart of the tale.
One aspect of heartbreak that does come across with unfailing clarity, however, is the self-absorption and exclusionary perspective that often accompanies loss. The narrator’s vision proves utterly myopic, alienating even the reader who has made a point to seek out the opportunity to empathize. In spite of the narrator’s attempts to distract herself amid rendezvous with S, a long-time lover, and Nurse, whom she begins dating shortly after the breakup, the narrator never becomes fully human. Seldom if ever is any depth of emotion expressed.
Although I tend to do a second read-through of any work of fiction in order to fully appreciate the nuances of the plotline and character development, it crossed my mind to consider a single reading of One Hundred Days of Rain to be enough; yet, my conscience got the best of me and I opted for another go, desperately hoping that I had missed something profound, which in the end was simply not to be.