Review: We Spread by Iain Reid
As I got older I started thinking that art is about different ways of seeing. I was never inspired by something whole. It was always a fragment, a piece of a moment, a half-forgotten impression, one side of a person. Never fully formed because it could only be my view of a thing, not someone else's.
I think that is the way we view this book. It's a web of tendrils reaching out in all directions, but you can only wrap yourself around so many at once. In my current state, at my current age, I've clung to a select few. But I think that when I read this book again, which I inevitably will, I'll find myself stuck to different roots. Because fears evolve.
Why is anything scary? It can only be scary if it's inescapable.
There are some things we can escape right now, or at least pretend to be able to. Maybe escape isn't precisely the right word. There are things we can evade. Things we can avoid thinking about, and thus escape, if only temporarily. But as you grow, the hall grows shorter. There are only so many doors left behind which you may hide. And eventually, I assume, it will become easier to just face the end of the corridor.
As the doors run out, I think I'm going to hold on to some of the tendrils I waltzed by on this first pass. And I'll be grateful.
That was the pretty version of my thoughts, but if you don't wanna deal with all that pretentiousness, here's me spilling EVERYTHING:
We Spread is the epitome of my favorite genre. Literary, psychological, philosophical, but undoubtably, horror. None of the book is explained, but all of it can be explained. It's infinite but finite, and in this case, that in itself ties into the central themes of eternity.
It's not true. Infinity is a breathtaking mystery, or so I used to believe. Now I know it's not. Infinity is stagnant. It doesn't expand. It can't. It's just immeasurable. It's not a mystery, it's simply endless.
Reid's books are fascinating because they're never about what you expect them to be. And by expecting that, I was somehow left in the dark yet again.
As I tried to convey in the first portion of this review, there is so much that can be taken away from this text, and I know that right now I'm only taking away a fraction of it. Speaking of fractions, everything Hilbert's character had to say destroyed me.
He's a man raised on numbers, obsessed with math and unanswered questions, but as he grows older and meets new people he starts drawing connections and significance to the humanities in conjunction with natural science. I don't wanna pull direct quotes because I don't want to ruin the effect for others, but let's just say his profound statements on simplifying fractions and Goldbach's conjecture were TOO MUCH TO HANDLE. If any book ever draws parallels between math and art and life, etc. I will be on the floor no matter what.
Another aspect of the infinity themes that really struck me now in particular was the idea of moments as something sacred.
I hug him. As hard as I can.
'I wish I'd known you sooner,' he says, 'for longer.'
'We know each other right now.'
'You're here with me right now.'
'Yes, and that's enough.'
Having gone through this EXACT scenario recently with some of the best friends I've ever made, this was truly a personal attack!!! Rude!!!!
Then he had to go on and say, A moment should mean something. It should be everything. Sir, please stop. Seriously, I can't handle this right now.
There's even more to unpack here about how society views the elderly as a collective instead of individuals, but those are the tendrils I'll leave to unspool another day.
Iain Reid, you're an evil, evil man. But please, never stop.