Upon finishing Shane Jones' ever-so-surreal novel, Light Boxes, I was surprised it was so poorly reviewed. I'm glad I was not dissuaded by these reviews when I started reading. In fact, after finishing the novel, I let out a post-orgasmic sigh. This is not to say that this work is pornographic (not in the least!), but it is such a sexy piece and I was sad to see its end (and thus went online to suss out more of his work). Jones uses visceral and brightly layered images which transport the reader into an almost lucid dream-like meditative state.
What caught my attention most was the structuring of the "chapters" in creating voice among his assembly cast of characters. Jones uses font sizing, breaks in pagination, bolded first lines simulating chapters, and negative space to introduce each character, rather than relying solely on dialect, tone and circumstance. In fact, other than Caldor Clemens' speech, the characters (the children, Professor, February, et al) all use the same distancing voice and melancholic tone. Before accusing Jones of being incapable of writing a varied voice, recall that February has reigned and raged over this town for several hundred days. These morose voices are affected, or rather influenced, by the weighted umbrella of February's depressive state.
Perhaps its description as a novel leads reviewers to approach it rigidly, dogmatically. 'Light Boxes' reads more as poetry than prose, or at least poetic prose. I'm soothed by its lush description and (not always so subtle) lyricality. I'm happy to have ignored the analytical droids feigning literary know-how. And for the record, I have now decided to devote one of my limbs to some aspect of kite tattoos, kids twisting the heads of flightless owls, and a woman who smells of honey and smoke.