Ben Arthur’s “If You Look For My Heart” searches for consistency

book-cover-if-you-look-for-my-heartMusician Ben Arthur‘s new book, If You Look For My Heart, does very little to make me want to listen to its companion album. The language in which it’s written is plain, and rather staid, with minimal details. The plot is a interwoven series of narratives involving a dissolving marriage, an unstable young man, and unequal relationships which all come together in the end.

It’s a little too earnest. The intertwining stories that come to a crashing halt is a great idea when it’s done well. Tom Perrotta’s latest, The Leftovers, does a smashing job of taking disparate narrative threads and weaving them together into an immensely satisfying, though shocking conclusion. If You Look For My Heart doesn’t manage its various storylines as well.

Arthur’s novel is capable, but the characters are too aloof for the reader to get any sense of who they truly are. While dialogue happens, and descriptive passages happen, rarely do they meet in any sort of inner monologue to allow the reader to grasp any serious sense of motivation. The climactic final encounter is prefaced just pages earlier with a rather awkward passage involving a character going to see a Rachel Yamagata show because she heard her on a college radio station.

Essentially, the narrative has difficultly maintaining any sense of emotional consistency. If You Look For My Heart would be a fine book were it to stick with one character’s perspective, but the abrupt shift from one character to the next leaves the reader woozy and uncomfortable.

You can read excerpts from the novel at Red Lemonade. It’s out totday through Mummery Publishing.