By: Knut Hansen
Publisher: Nightengale Press
Publication Date: October 2014
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: October 4, 2014
Matt Krach is a man who needs help. An American living in Norway, he has, quite simply, lost his zest for life. In a desperate plea for help, he slits his wrists. Matt survives his suicide attempt and checks himself into a mental hospital, hoping he can find somebody there who has the answers.
While Matt makes a friend at the hospital, an employee named Are, he, unfortunately, never finds relief from his problems. The hospital’s solution is to fill Matt with drugs, which obviously do little to guide him through his troubles. As Matt lies in the hospital, he dreams about better days such as his early life in America, with an overbearing father, a loving, if slightly distracted mother, and two much older siblings. Other pleasant memories help pass the time, including his burgeoning musical career, where playing a guitar was all he required to make him happy.
Although Matt has many dreams while lying in his bed, those dreams frequently morph into bizarre imaginings, such as the memory of a school play where the audience suddenly changes into a pack of werewolves. Is it the drugs playing tricks on his mind or is it something deeper?
Matt is eventually released from the hospital, but his troubles are far from over. He still has connections to the facility through two employees who plan to use him to help sell drugs. Matt gets caught up in a whirlwind of circumstances, some beyond his control, as he struggles to regain some semblance of a good life. He is separated from his wife, Marianne, and tensions are strained, especially since Matt wants very much to be in their girls’ lives. With all his problems, however, it’s no surprise that Marianne is not happy with Matt.
Matt’s good friend Lars, who we’d met earlier in the story, starts to play a major role in the story at this point. In fact, we meet many new characters, including several young women who help the guys have one heck of a party, complete with a bouncer who does not want them in the basement of the party house. As the story progresses, relationships are tested and it’s not certain whether Matt will escape with his emotional life intact.
Chuck It is an interesting take on one man’s struggle to find himself. It took a little while to get into the story as I was not quite sure what was going on in Matt’s mind and that made the story difficult to follow at times. A slow, careful reading is required to pick up the subtle points the author was making. That coupled with the somewhat changing plot (the wild party, a dog napping) where Matt would disappear for a while as the story centered on another character (particularly Lars), made this a somewhat challenging read. Overall, however, I enjoyed the story and found it a different take on the challenges facing a man on the edge of despair.
Quill says: An interesting read on one man’s desperate attempts to regain his life.