The Flesh Statue is U.L. Harper’s debut novel. The story revolves around the character of 19-year-old Langley Jackson, an aspiring poet. Langley’s grandfather has Alzheimer’s Disease and Langley finds this quite confronting, not just because he lives with his grandfather and grandmother but also because this, whether it be consciously or subconsciously, takes Langley on a self-enlightening journey.
As with most 19-year-olds Langley is trying to find his niche in life. He moves out of his grandparents’ house and lives by himself, switching from a neighbourhood full of your average middle class population to Long Beach where those not familiar with the area would be comforted knowing the police have a strong presence on the streets. Langley makes friends with Cinci and Bert after meeting at the Highbrow, a pub where the spoken word conjures up enthusiastic applause and where poetry gives you an opportunity to speak freely about whatever you desire and in some cases the subject matter is very serious.
Cinci and Bert introduce Langley to the life at the Highbrow and the friendship proceeds from there. Both Cinci and Bert have, and have had, problems in their lives, (who hasn’t?) and Langley becomes aware of and involved in these. All three characters go through quite a learning curve of self-awareness and The Flesh Statue takes us along for the ride.
The novel is quite confronting, the issues raised are not watered down into pleasant phrases and it has a very ‘real’ factor about it; in your face but very real. There are many issues discussed and many messages to get across in The Flesh Statue and because of this I imagine it was not a very ‘easy’ novel to write in the sense that emotions may have been brought to the fore, possibly sometimes unwanted. I believe it would have been quite difficult to express so many concerns in an apt way.
I believe U.L. Harper would not have had an easy road to travel formulating sensitive and serious issues. Challenging is definitely a word that springs to mind. However, there are very few stones unturned and Mr Harper has adequately produced an interesting story as well as promoting certain issues, morals and beliefs. Subjects brought to life in this novel include abortion, abuse, challenge against adversity, death, freedom, graffiti, murder, police standing, uprising of the people and political beliefs are also on the agenda.
We have the San Pedro Group claiming “The City is Ours” and believing that, “Nowadays anything socially active and not in the mainstream was terrorism.” We have, “It’s the rule of society. You had to go to work or your life wouldn’t be your life anymore.” We also have, “All these fools in control of the blue collar man….misinformed children brought up by a win or you’re a loser culture….it’s going to take some kind of cultural demonstration to make things better.” And we have Bert thinking, “….how eventually he’d die with calloused hands, with a blue collar, something like a noose….wondering where life had gone, and he’d realize that he had spent it fixing dented cars.”
I enjoyed reading The Flesh Statue even if at times it was a little hard to read of such devastation and destruction. One part I particularly liked was when Langley was listening to Latrail, a friend from his ‘previous’ life, reading his dearly departed mother’s poetry:
“Prior to her reading of the poem, light tears washed over him. He seemed to be leaking out moments that were, as far as he could tell, stored in physical parts of his body – in his shoulders, his back, his stomach. His body remembered things that his brain ignored.”
To me the above shows U.L. Harper’s inner poet. Be on the look out for poetry throughout the novel – it may tug at your emotional strings.
I want to thank U.L. Harper for providing me with a copy of The Flesh Statue to review and also for participating in an interview with me – thank you, U.L. Harper.
Click here to go to U.L.’s profile on my website where you will find links to the blurb of The Flesh Statue, my interview with U.L., his website, his Goodreads profile and a link to purchase The Flesh Statue.