Resonance and Revolt

Resonance and Revolt by Rosanne Rabinowitz. Eibonvale Press.

Reviewed by Peter Coleborn

In 2013 I read Rabinowitz’s novella Helen’s Story, from PS Publishing. It was a wonderful and evocative tale. When I reviewed it I said: “Helen’s Story is a tour de force of one woman’s fight to understand her nature – and is quite simply a masterpiece. I’d place it in the same class, the way it mixes the real and the myth, as Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock, Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce and Among Others by Jo Walton.” And so I was very pleased to get my hands on Resonance and Revolt.

From the start of “In the Pines”, the lead story in this collection, I was hooked. This is a story evocative of the song (that most people think was written by Leadbelly) made famous during Nirvana’s Unplugged session. Like records (rather than MP3 downloads), this story is circular, returning to answer questions about music, dimensions, about loss.

There are a further 15 stories in this book. They were originally published over a 11 year period (from 2005 to 2016) plus one original tale, “The Peak”. I was particular taken by “Survivor’s Guilt” (examining the guilt of surviving [obviously] using the liminal place between real and unreal events); “These Boots” (a cheeky little horror ditty); “The Peak” (art and the occupation of Millbank House), and “The Pleasure Garden” (a homage to Joel Lane and originally published in Something Remains). In fact the spirit of Lane infuses this collection.

It took me longer to read this book than it should have done. Rabinowitz is a wonderful stylist who writes compassionately about characters you want to care about. She writes from the heart. But with the theme of the uncaring society, injustice and inequality running through these stories … well, after two or three of them I had to break off and read other things for a while. It is vital that we know about and address society’s ills, but nevertheless I suggest that you dip in and out of Resonance and Revolt and savour the tales along with a glass of wine (or coffee or tea or G&T; your choice, I’m not being prescriptive). Recommended.