Rating: 5 stars out of 5
My name’s Charlie. I’m many things, though none of them having to do with any real talent. I’m a runaway, a hustler when I need to be, a ghost when I have to scare hoodlums away from my home, and a loner who maybe reads too much. But most of all, I’m the keeper of the carnival. That’s how I see myself. I look after the place ’cause even dying things need to be cared for. Maybe it’s illegal. Maybe that rusty metal fence around the carnival is supposed to keep me out too. Or maybe me and this place were meant to find each other. Truth is, I never felt at home anywhere but here, not even in all the foster families and orphanages I was placed in as a young shit. They don’t look for me no more, those places. I suspect I ran away so much they finally just said, “Fuck! Let him go.” I am a hangnail on society’s manicured middle finger. I’m older. One year past the age anyone gives a shit.
And this is my adventure…
I’d read Eric Arvin’s other incredible stories, including The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men, and Azrael and the Light Bringer but I had never gotten around to Wave Goodbye to Charlie. With the passing of Eric Arvin, Dreamspinner Press is re-releaseing his novels, and it was the perfect time to pick it up and revisit the mind and imagination of a truly gifted man and author.
Once again the beauty and wild earthiness of Eric Arvin’s writing astounds me. From the moment we meet Charlie, ambling along the road, voicing his thoughts about the trees and the dusty, grit of the surface, we know this character. It’s in his speech and thought patterns. It’s where he’s where’s he’s been, tricking himself out, and it’s in his final destination, the place he calls home, an abandoned carnival that just may not be all that empty. Arvin brings us life lived at the margin of society in all it rawness and yes, tawdriness. Yet, there’s something about Charlie so determined to live his life on his own terms, even if that means that his bed is a canoe from a rusted out ride, and his home does some peculiar things in the night. Charlie’s a hustler, a loner, and content to be on his own as a runaway.yet unusual enough to calmly accept the strange goings on around him. That’s a whole lot of intriguing to start off with and Charlie just continues to pull you into his messy and strange life.
Wave Goodbye to Charlie becomes a journey for Charlie and the reader, an examination into the supernatural and the afterlife. Reading through the story and passages, Charlie and the reader can pass from the mundane everyday occurrences to striking moments of terror and in Eric Arvin’s writing, it’s both beautiful and horrific, illuminating and heartbreaking. I find it hard to describe the moments of gut wrenching terror without having spoilers, just know there are some, not graphic but the feelings they engender will linger, until towards the end….when all start to be, not erased but transformed.
Leroy and Jimmy, Trent, Alfie, and Nessa, all characters that are central to Charlie and his journey here. Potential lovers, friends, a gay couple who consider him “their boy” and much more. You will find yourself weeping with and for these people here, for tragedy and heartache is a commonality in this small misbegotten place and yet, together love binds them and moves them all forward, although not in a way you might expect. Everyone you meet here feels incredibly real, both good and bad, as does the small town they all inhabit. I expect this was a world Eric Arvin knew well because it lives and breathes here on these pages as do these people. As to the rest? Its anyone’s guess. Again that mind of Arvin’s must have been a labyrinth of mythology, imagination and more, and unreal to navigate through if his stories are any indication.
I admit to being incredibly moved and needing to grab up tissues throughout this story. So much of Wave Goodbye to Charlie still has me thinking, moved by the characters, their condition and their journey together. This isn’t a romance, not in the traditional sense. Maybe between Leroy and Jimmy, that’s true love at its finest, but for Charlie? Well, you see….he was loved by more than he knew. It took him a while to find that out. Us too. Pick up this book and take that journey. Its an unforgettable one.
Cover Artist: John Coulthart. This is a perfect cover for this story in every way. Read the book and find out why.
ebook, 2nd Edition, 200 pages
Published April 3rd 2017 by Dreamspinner Press (first published October 8th 2014)
ISBN 1635338212 (ISBN13: 9781635338218)
Edition Language English