Some stories don't need a strong narrative. Some stories wash over you, under you, carry you with them until the tide lets go, and that doesn't always mean when it reaches the shore. J. A. Tyler's second novel, A Man of Glass & All The Ways We Have Failed, is a different kind of storytelling. It breaks all rules of traditional plot and narrative, and instead relies on its staggering language and imagery to move the reader steadily from one page to the next. Call it prose, call it a poem, call it a mirage, if it seems necessary. It isn't. Here, labels fall between cracks, like sand. Your mind will abandon reality and physics, but this certainly isn't sci-fi. It's a love song. It's a snapshot. It's a man and woman aching to communicate but never saying a word. Maybe one is dead. Maybe they lost a child and never fully recovered. There is evidence for both, but it's still not the point. It's the emotion that matters, the description, the different elements in the earth that they both become as a result.
--Amanda Kimmerly, Fringe Magazine
Everything about this thing is just a little different than we thought things could be. And so it's difficult to define: it's difficult to want to define it. This is like a Miranda July film. It's like finding a grocery list with all the things you needed. It's like old home movies on a projector; with people you didn't know you were related to, having nothing but good times. This is like a circle. This makes you think about words: individual words. It makes you say them out loud until they don't mean what you thought they meant. Sand and paper and sex:
Reach out and touch me again he says and the words are velveteen, rabbit ears and goose-bumps.
It's not all pretty, though. It's much more like real life. Split-ends, vomit, fire, tree stumps, sleep. Lots of neutral things. Things that don't make sense, and shouldn't. It is a circle.
--Micah Ling, Book Punch
Seriously one of the coolest prose books I've read in a long long time.
--Tyler Gobble, Vouched Books
Reading the novel is an experience in itself--one that requires wrapping your head around these images and trying to find meaning while waiting for the snippets of information in-between. Descriptive language that expresses the longing and heartache dominates the piece:
In darkness he paints the outline of her shoulder, the silhouette of her, the nomenclature of her, the fists of her, the legs of her, the back of her.
Repetition and interplay of words make for beautiful passages.
--Megan Mowry, The Hipster Book Club
A Man Of Glass & All The Ways We Have Failed is a beautifully-woven narrative which understands and utilizes the effects that minimalism has on a reader. Beyond this, the novel is fueled in such a way that is often underrated and largely unseen, and demonstrates the power of such subtleties as figurative language, structure, as well as a truly talented writer. After it has been stripped bare, the novel is left naked, exposed, unhindered, beautiful.
--T. D. Fields, Feed
J.A. Tyler's A Man Of Glass & All The Ways We Have Failed is filled with haunting and elegant prose, full of imagery that appeals to all senses. Each word, each line, is packed with energy, and there is this epic tension that forms from sentence to sentence:
Glass crumbles and her hair dries, her body dries, and the towels go up on the rack and the boat it goes back in her head, the last drips running down her ankles. A captain and his sword, the words she doesn't hear. (20-21)
The work is powerful in its silence, meaning there isn't any forced language, but rather the fluidity of diction magnifies each poetic scene.
--Shome Dasgupta, Laughing Yeti
This is a man being so much other than.
How the love falls out of him, replaced by beads, by water, by nails, by cardboard.
Bent on a curb, blowing kisses to dead lips in that window above, a voice calling out a name, her not looking down at the wreckage.
A man when there is none left.
This is a love poem, a love poem that doesn't want to be, a love poem about shattering open, about groping for what is left when there is nothing left, when subsistence isn't enough, when we are damaged and the memories of what was, are all that is.