The Path of the Just is as a Shining Light which Shines More and More Unto the Perfect Day
  • This is a repost from some time ago — the most articulate and thoughtful and heartfelt review of this book that I ever received, from a wonderful person I’ve never met and with whom I barely communicated, and that was a long time ago:

    I finished reading Ray Harvey’s More and More unto the Perfect Day more than a year ago – for the third time. I had intended to write a review of the book immediately following each reading, but couldn’t gather my thoughts into a neat pile. Instead, I was left with crooked, overlapped, often torn conclusions of how the book had affected me. I have taken notes. I have made an outline in order to follow the storyline. I still find myself unable to write a standard type review, so instead, I’ll submit to my visceral reactions…as a human being; not as a writer, critic, or editor.

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    First, it pissed me off because it attempted to challenge the beliefs that I have held dear for the entirety of my 38 years. For this, I commend it. A religious man’s faith is tested. The pages where this occurred in real-time are now filled with dry gorges — valleys that were formed by the weight of my tears. Old tears.

    Second, the crooked, yet parallel, line it draws with my own life had me looking over my shoulder with the turn of every page. From things as provocative and significant as sourceless anger and spontaneous illness to spooky similarities like Cherokee heritage, acne scars, stretch marks, the names and appearances of family members…I experienced what I would call a one-dimensional, reflective haunting.

    Here’s where I stop counting and fall into what flirts with a search for words. This book reached deep within in me. I am a deer that is not yet dead, but being prematurely field-dressed due to her poacher’s anxiety, guilt…something. A hand grabs at my trachea, cuts off the air, and pulls downward, to a place outside my own body. This book has found places within me that have been injured. Some of them have been healed. Others are now bleeding.

    I’m not a philosopher, and don’t wish to be. I’m not an intellectual, though I sometimes envy those who are. That’s why it’s so difficult to qualify how and why this book affected me so profoundly. I’m still not sure I understand all the material. Maybe I never will; maybe it’s not intended to be fully understood.

    I have found myself wishing I had never read it. Yet, I have read it numerous times. I have attempted to rid my mind of the images it imparts. Yet, I revisit them and curl up into the places they have hollowed out for me. Its lyrical prose is like a song. Its imagery is dark, shapely, and at times, far too real.

    Thank you, Mr. Harvey. I don’t know if you intended to do this to me, but it has been done. I doubt I will ever read another book like yours, but if one comes along, the will power to keep my hands off of it will have to be strong. Thank you for demonstrating how good literary fiction distracts the conscious mind while implanting belief systems into the subconscious and unconscious minds. You have reminded me why I love the written word and why I am addicted to its effects – even if those effects are those which I’d rather not endure.

    I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is NOT impressed by predictability, pedestrian prose, shallow characters, and ignorance as an ultimate form of contentedness. If you fit the profile, hold on. There’s no telling how deep this one will take you.

    (Source)

    Many dislike this book, and I’ve been surprised at the amount of hate-mail I’ve gotten over it. It is flawed — I know that — not well-paced and perhaps overly philosophical. Yet it took me almost a decade of my life to write and have published, with two near misses — one from Counterpoint Press (Santa Rosa) and the other from Unbridled Books (Saint Louis), both of whose editors were kind enough to write me personal letters expressing admiration but both of whom felt it ultimately “unmarketable.”

    I just reread this book for the first time in almost three years, and I believe more strongly than ever that for all its undeniable flaws, it succeeds on the level I most wanted it to, and that its thematic point is important and intelligible. (“If it ceases to be intelligible, it ceases to be art,” said Walter Pater.)

    This book took unspeakable amounts of discipline to finish. It very easily could have not gotten finished, and it almost didn’t. It is a long, dense novel, and I labored like never before over every word of every sentence in this book (122,000 words), and rereading it over the past week-and-a-half brought back a heartbreaking multitude of memories — so many specific rooms and places and coffeeshops and cups of coffee and seasons and thoughts about storyline and so many old bookstores and libraries (I lived in these places for much of this book, primarily for Ethiopia and its unbelievable history, much of which goes far deeper than the internet currently provides, and a great deal of which information I wound up cutting, but it remains dear to me), and then the final push to finish the last hundred pages: a Herculean task, if I may say, driving out alone into West Texas and New Mexico, living in motels and doing very little more than writing and going for long runs in the high deserts and eating only occasionally.

    Sometimes when writers read their early work, they wince in embarrassment. I half expected that might be the case in rereading this, my first published novel. It was not.

    In many ways, it was just the opposite: I almost cannot believe that I wrote it — and I don’t mean that in any way self-aggrandizingly, but only to say that it’s such a strange, philosophical novel that I don’t quite know how it all came together. Dostoevsky is clearly the driving force behind much of it — all four of his masterpieces, but especially Demons and Crime & Punishment.

    Thank you again for the inexpressibly beautiful review, Jacinda: a friend and fellow writer whom I’ve never met.




    Here’s a less understanding review I once posted.


    September 22nd, 2018 | journalpulp | 6 Comments | Tags: , ,

About The Author

I was born and raised in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. I've worked as a short-order cook, construction laborer, crab fisherman, janitor, bartender, pedi-cab driver, copyeditor, and more. I've written and ghostwritten several published books and articles, but no matter where I've gone or what I've done to earn my living, there's always been literature and learning as the constant in my life.

6 Responses and Counting...

  • Jacinda Little 09.22.2018

    What a pleasant surprise! More than five years ago. So happy to see that you’re still writing, Ray. When can we expect the next book?

  • It just came out. Look:

    https://www.rayharveybooks.com

    And thank you for dropping by!

  • Gap-Toothed Girl?

    The significance of that title is beyond interesting to me for a number of reasons.

    I’ll be making that purchase.

  • Thank you, Ms. Little.

    Gap-Toothed Girl is free for the next four days on Kindle, and I’d love it if you downloaded it:

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GTBLNXS

    Here’s a passage from Chapter 49 that partially elaborates on my title:

    In the dream, Dusty May came alone to the room of toys and dolls. The room was darkling, and a doll with X’s for eyes and a gap-toothed grin hung naked from the ceiling, a brutal gash circumscribing the little porcelain neck from which fresh spurts of water and blood freely disgorged. An army of tiny bugs streamed in and out of the doll’s nose and mouth and ears and eyes, infiltrating her and destroying her from within. Dusty turned her head away. A cold wind swirled into the room and slammed the door shut.

    “Do you know what the space between your front teeth represents, Dusty May?”

    Dusty looked across the room. The vast and naked corpus of Kenneth Dvorak stood glowing from among the shadows. She did not reply to him.
    “It represents the empty space in your life that will never be filled,” he said.

    She turned away again. A warm and gentle thing brushed against her leg. She looked down. It was the black-and-butterscotch kitty walking slowly around her. She could hear its purr, feel the life-force burning within the soft body, and she thought of life and death and blood, and she thought of violation. She shut her eyes.

    When she opened them again, Sheila was in the room. She appeared like an angel. She had a white hyacinth in her hair, and her hair was loose and flowing. Her veins ran like little azure streams all across her body — veins containing her blood which poured life into her and throughout her. She was very lovely. Sheila looked at the silent naked figure of Kenneth Dvorak, and she did not remove her eyes from him, even as she spoke to Dusty. As she spoke, the shadows of the room engulfed him more profoundly.

    Sheila told Dusty that Kenneth Dvorak was wrong and that the space between her teeth, far from representing emptiness, was a testament to Dusty’s irrepressible happiness and her beautiful smile, the music that throbbed inside her which no thing could infiltrate or break. She said that emotional intimacy is the very bedrock of love, never fading but obtaining, and that this warm intimacy flows naturally from the wellspring of her happiness and is more fundamental than physical appetites and evanescent pleasures no matter how voracious or ecstatic, which pleasures will always fade, and that love in the deepest sense is timeless and stems fundamentally from the capacity to value. She said that this capacity starts and ends with the independent self and the independent mind that thinks and reasons and loves itself first for the very capacity it has to do this: a mind of indestructible balance.

  • That’s fantastic, Ray. I can relate to that prose!

    I will be ordering a hard copy this week. I’m a “hold it in my hands” kind of reader.

  • ‘I’m a “hold it in my hands” kind of reader.’

    Me too, kind lady!

    It’s really good to see you.

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