Published by Harper Collins on 7/8/2014
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Owen Burr’s hopes of competing in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens are dashed when he is blinded in one eye during his final college water polo match. Before his father Joseph, a well-known classics professor, can help him plot out his next steps, Owen decides to go to Berlin and attempt life as an artist. Soon, he is taken in by an art collective with questionable intentions while his father organizes a speaking tour that will allow him to search for his son
It’s clear from the beginning of A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall, as the story of Joseph’s heartbreak is woven into the action of Owen’s blinding water polo match, that Chancellor can write. Sadly, the book soon seems to split in two, with half of it favoring a fast talking, dialogue-heavy style that feels too stark against the more meditative foundation established in the beginning of the novel. While the plot Chancellor writes for Owen in Berlin is a fascinating one, the change in voice makes it feel a little like a misplaced short story sandwiched in a much better novel.
Though the two halves come back together toward the end of the book, which is incredibly strong, the middle remains disconnected and uneven. Still, the standout moments of A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall mark the entrance of a new, creative voice in the world of fiction that will be well worth watching in years to come.