Article published on November 11, 2016.
This debut from Eric Beck Rubin really hit the spot for me. Told from the point of view of Jan, a highly successful concert pianist, it explores the hold an unresolved conflict from the past can have on the mind. With music as an integral theme running throughout the book there is a well-defined mirroring effect as Jan’s increasing inability to play forces him to confront a part of himself he has long denied.
As Jan prepares to track down and face up to old school friend Dirk, the narrative becomes the history of their friendship. That there are significant differences in personality and character is no real surprise but the growing bond and stop start intensity between them is vividly written and this early part of the book is particularly memorable.
As they wrestle with standard teenage boy concerns – girls, parties, what they’re going to do with the rest of their lives – their underlying feelings creep closer to the surface…but not close enough. It is this inability to articulate that defines this short novel and it is perfectly pitched. As the adult Jan begins to recognise the damage it has caused him he realises that the only way to repair himself is to go back – but regression therapy is not without its risks. What he discovers is as much of a surprise to the reader (this one, at least) as to him and his reaction has the potential to undo him completely.
A study in the limits of perspective this is the perfect set-up for a psychological ‘thriller’ in the broadest possible sense but what made me love it was it’s sophisticated European quality and intelligent writing style. Jan’s adulthood wasn’t quite so compelling – art imitating life, perhaps? – but you always knew that a startling conclusion was just around the corner. It gripped me – I raced through it in a day.
Note: do check out the soundtrack to the novel on Eric Beck Rubin’s website, divided into Jan and Dirk erickbeckrubin.com
School of Velocity by Eric Beck Rubin, published by (Pushkin) One on 17th November, 2016 in hardback at £12.99