Friday, February 10, 2017

Lit by Lightning - Nicole Sarrocco

Summary: From North Carolina comes the electrifying new voice of Nicole Sarrocco, whose debut novel Lit by Lightning--first in the Occasionally Trueseries--is an intensely personal and strangely universal tale of finding grace in chaos, creating meaning from nonsense, and for heaven's sake not making too much of a spectacle of yourself. A witty, hilarious, transcendent and disturbing tale of ghosts, manners, and the family we choose and the ones who choose us.

"I could sweep together the dust of our hearts. The ashes of my grandparents' house that didn't burn. The complete fire that is death. The charred wood and the pulverized concrete and the souls of a million barbecued pigs. The dust in the corners of basements. Everything that isn't the fire itself, the movement through the wires. All of it rolled up together and shot into the sky, into a firework--that's a song you could sing out over the radio. The ones on the other side can hear us, then. If we can roll all of it together and name it out loud, send it out into space on transmitters or something--then they could hear us. If they can hear us, then we'd be able to hear them, too. That makes sense, doesn't it?" (Summary and image from

Review: How would your life be different if from the beginning of it, you were surrounded by spirits?  They talked with you, they appeared to you, they caused phenomena that people that couldn't understand this addition to your life, how would you have developed? How would you come to grips with your situation now?

What if your children had the same gift?  Worse, what if your child was one of the spirits?

I think that this is the premise of Sarrocco's first novel.  Granted, her writing is dubbed "mostly true", but it's left to the imagination of the reader what is truth and what is embellishment. This approach further complicated an already-jumbled and disconnected narrative, creating a novel that left me perplexed for days. Wait, that's only mostly true.  I'm still confused. It's been weeks, and I still have absolutely no idea what on earth I read.

Not only was there a lack of a discernible plot anywhere in this novel, there was a glaring absence of a timeline. Anywhere.  Halfway though a paragraph (sometimes even a sentence) the perspective would completely shift from either the story of the author, possibly the story of one of the spirits that haunts her, or just a fictional story she couldn't set down?  I truly don't know.  It made me question my sanity to the point of distraction. 

I didn't enjoy this book.  You know those scenes in movies where hipsters/beatniks are raving about a "piece of art", about how deep and thoughtful and life-altering it is, when really it's either a joke or a literal trash can meant for collecting trash? I felt like this book is struggling to be a piece of art that the most cerebral and "with it" will understand -- and it just completely misses the mark.  Perhaps I'm a luddite. Or perhaps, this particular book just misses the mark.

Rating: One star

For the Sensitive Reader: The language is strong enough that sailors would blush.

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