Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume, published through Windmill Books, isn’t a type of book I would normally pick up. In fact, it was a surprise from my one-time order of a blind date with a book box. I put off reading it for a while because it’s a dog book. I never read dog books or watch dog movies because I know it’s going to be sad. Even if it’s a feel-good dog story, which this was most definitely not, you know something is coming. The dog dies, the human gets sick, the dog runs away, etc. And I just can’t handle it. But I’m trying to do a tbr challenge for October and the first prompt was a book with an animal so I decided to brave it.
It’s hard to describe the synopsis of Spill Simmer Falter Wither. The best I can do is say it’s about an isolated disabled previously-abused man adopting an isolated disabled previously-abused dog. The book is separated into the four seasons: Spill for spring, Simmer for summer, Falter for fall, and wither for winter. Throughout the book you get a glimpse into the man’s present and past and see his own twisted journey to how he loves this dog.
I’d give this book three stars. It probably deserves more, but I couldn’t deal with how sad this book was! It was a tear-jerker from page one. Plus, not much happens. It’s very character-driven, more about the thoughts and feelings of the disabled man, with the majority of book just stuck in observations of the world. Then, all of a sudden, a lot of twisted, bizarre, and borderline spooky things happen at the end. I think the pacing could have been better.
That being said, the descriptions and writing style in this book was beautiful. It really causes the reader to stop and reflect on their own lives and what they may have taken for granted. Descriptions of the environment and the way the seasons changed seemed reminiscent of the worlds of Thoreau and Rachel Carson. Everything was very visceral–from the gritty scenes to the beautiful ones.
One thing that bugged me throughout was that he kept giving his dog chocolate. Dogs can’t eat chocolate! And this dog never got sick from it! It’s a silly thing but it did annoy me.
If you’re someone that does like dog stories and needs a good sob right now, then I’d recommend this book. If you hate crying and abuse stories, steer clear of this book!
If you want to know more about the author, Sara Baume is an Irish novelist who has won many literary awards including the Davy Byrne’s Short Story award, the Kate O’Brien award, and the Hennessy New Irish Writing Award.