by Brittney Tafoya
Title: The Night Ocean
Author: Paul La Farge
Publisher: Penguin Books
Similar to Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, Paul La Farge’s novel The Night Ocean is a fictional story based on the mysterious relationship between H.P. Lovecraft and an under aged boy, Robert Barlow. But it is not just a story about Lovecraft and Barlow. It is a story about a famed writer whose name has been dragged through the mud for his outdated beliefs, a marriage that has come second to his obsession with literary hoaxes, and a story of one man’s chance to redeem himself. This novel touches on our basic human desires to live, to be loved, and to be remembered.
Follow Charlie Willett’s curiosity, obsession and untimely disappearance after falling victim to a literary scandal of his own. The police rule his disappearance as a suicide, but Marina, Charlie’s wife, isn’t convinced. Grief stricken, she follows her husband’s footsteps to find out the truth about H.P. Lovecraft’s influence on the world of science fiction; Robert Barlow; a fan and friend of the writer; and L.C. Spinks, a repairman with ties to the writer who may not be who he says he is.
This multi-layered story is a whirlwind of fantasy and how it can weave its way into reality. While having multiple voices in the same story could make for a daunting and confusing read, La Farge has been able to break down the decades of this mystery into six sections, each one elaborating on another, creating a web of twisted truths.
This novel is a warning to the obsessed. There will be more questions than answers, but don’t fall prey to the obsession. No one has come back.
Brittney graduated from Cal State Northridge with her bachelor’s in creative writing, and, after a short hiatus, found a master’s program in the same field through the University of Denver. Her goal to work in the publishing industry began when she served as editor for Cal State Northridge’s literary magazine’s spring 2014 issue, and has since been able to work with various publishers in both fiction and non-fiction.