The Silver Hearted
by David McConnell
Alyson Books. 230 pages, $14.95
THIS IS a strange and marvelous bird of a novel. On its surface, The Silver Hearted is an adventure story that convincingly channels the classics of that genre. A layer below the surface ripples a sharp critique of colonial and post-colonial themes that go further than Conrad or Forster could have done.
Deeper still, there lurks a dark and convincing novel of ideas—big ideas like truth and consciousness. Those big ideas and their delivery are McConnell’s province alone. With so much at stake, McConnell takes a staggering risk with his unnamed and gloriously unreliable narrator, but the risk pays off brilliantly, as the reader’s attention is so occupied with getting a bead on the protagonist’s character and motivation that the big ideas insinuate themselves almost effortlessly. The experience of reading The Silver Hearted is, one imagines, a lot like the narrator’s experience of its action—challenging, scary, uproarious, and redemptive.