I specialize in reviewing Print-On-Demand (POD) published books for my website and Midwest Book Review. Please query for a review by email to hgunther234@hotmail.com.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

ANAXIMANDER'S ANNEX by Edward Fotheringill

Booklocker.com, Inc.
Genre: Metaphysics/Fiction/Mystery
Rating: A ‘Masterpiece’
ISBN: 9781601458728, $15.95, pp 280

If you’ve read my past reviews, you’re aware not all the reviews were favorable...I’m not a book promoter. Sometimes I don’t have much to say about a book...no spark, but occasionally a book comes along that lights my fire, and Anaximander’s Annex is one such rare book...a true masterpiece!

Intriguing, thought provoking, simplistic yet convoluted, metaphysically and sociologically insightful, multi-layered, open-ended, and so tight Hemingway would be proud.

As always, I’ll begin by quoting from the back cover:

“Five scholars of international renown in the academia of Ancient Greek philosophy harbor a secret that could forever change the intellectual landscape of Western civilization. As they deliberate how best to share their discovery with the world, mysterious machinations of fate make them question the entire nature of truth and revelation.”

That’s extremely complex, don’t you think?...questioning “the entire nature of truth and revelation.” which, indeed, they do. But, there is also a simpler level and here Anaximander’s Annex is about aliens, werewolves, murders, death, sex, alcohol, cigars, indifference, redemption, and the color yellow.

For those of us who missed Ancient Greek Philosophy 101 (myself included), Anaximander (610 BC - 546 BC) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher who lived in Miletus, Ionia. He was one of the earliest Greek thinkers at the start of the Axial Age, the period from approximately 700 BC to 200 BC, during which similarly revolutionary thinking appeared in China, India, Iran, the Near East, and Ancient Greece. He was a proponent of science claiming that nature is ruled by laws. In physics, he postulated that the indefinite (or apeiron) was the source of all things.

Anaximader’s Annex contains 94 succinct chapters and a cast of enigmatic characters: the 5 scholars–Harry Foxworth, Roger Stone, Arthur DeMonet, Justin Campbell and Brigitte Pernod; Patrick Foxworth, Harry’s twin brother; 3 homicide detectives; 2 forensic pathologists; 3 prostitutes; a mad housewife; a French werewolf; a suicide in progress; a professor of abnormal psychology; a nameless ex-professor in a Baltimore alley; a one-armed hag in a London slum; a blind, abandoned mother who had no daughter and no fear; and other minor players.

Alan Watts once said, “An essential element of creativity is the mysterious.” And, that rings true in Anaximander’s Annex. The most perplexing and provocative aspects of this novel are the elements that are not there–full disclosure and anticipated reactions. There is no clear protagonist, but circuitously, alcoholic homicide detective Al Wherle gets my vote.

Fotheringill’s writing style is unique yet not affectatious; his metaphors are dramatic yet not contrived; his extensive vocabulary enriches the patterns he weaves; there are messages here and yet he says nothing. Each chapter may answer a question and partially define a character but at the same time creates a new mystery and leaves something unexplained. He spins a metaphysical web while he entertains, educates and then leaves us hanging. Here is an excerpt from page 169 to possibly tempt you.

“Al closed his tired eyes and opened them again. ‘The way I see it, words don’t do much to reveal the truth. They’re a cheap substitute. Language always falls short. Always. Silence has no boundaries. It’s infinite enough to make room for the truth.’ Al stared at the ceiling, his mind settling and resting in nothingness. ‘Look up there, at the ceiling. It’s a tabula rasa. It is what it is. The shadows of the candle dance on the surface of the ceiling but don’t affect it. The ceiling is the truth, the shadows are words that try to capture the truth.’ Al wondered whether or not to continue. ‘You can tell who among us can endure the truth. And you can tell those who can’t. Those that talk incessantly and have opinions about everything and are enamored with their own opinions cannot endure the truth.’

“‘Why do you say that?’

“‘Because an encounter with truth makes you silent. Only silence gives room for the truth. Silence is the space where truth can breathe.’”

Edward Fotheringill teaches philosophy at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland. His other novels include Lanterns in the Mist, Darkness Withdrawn OR The Eclipse of Nietzsche’s Shadow and Halfmoon Confidential. All good, but this is his best yet.

Truly...a masterpiece!!!

Kaye Trout - August 11, 2009