Armin Tolentino’s review of The Remnants

We received this incredible review of The Remnants by Armin Tolentino, a poet, winner of an Oregon Literary Fellowship, and a BACKWORDS Press author:

The novel The Remnants opens on a morning in the dying town of New Eden where three of its elderly residents struggle to navigate a single day in the waning moments of their community’s existence.  From there, author Robert Hill—like a family’s matriarch or a traveling troubadour—deftly unpacks this single day to reveal the complex webbing of multiple generations and the underlying relationships and choices that inevitably lead to the town’s demise.

While a dozen characters make up the story of New Eden, the central driver of the book is actually Hill’s prose style.  Embodied by an omniscient narrator, his invented down-home twang (replete with hilarious metaphors and folksy proverbs) stuns the reader from page one, submerging us fully and irretrievably into this community’s vernacular, traditions, and norms.

It’s a prose that’s wholly original and incredibly captivating.  A reader could get lost in the wizardry of his writing, delighting in it simply for its sonics and novelty, but it becomes obvious quite quickly this isn’t just a gimmick.  Hill needs to construct an invented language for the people of New Eden so we readers can access the horrors and secrets that hide in its inhabitants’ kitchens and barns.  This slanged language tells the story truer than any familiar dialect could do.  It’s a feat that’s Clockwork-esque.

Ultimately, while The Remnants may be a story about the history of people tied by secrets, desires, and so much shared blood, Hill’s craftsmanship reminds us that even after everyone is gone, the words and lore remain.

– Armin Tolentino, poet and reader

Armin received his master’s degree from Rutgers University in Newark, NJ. His poetry has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Literary Laundry, Blue Earth Review, and New Millennium Writings. He was also a 2014 Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship recipient. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

Robert Hill will appear in conversation with Rene Denfeld, author of The Enchanted, at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 2, at Broadway Books in Portland, Oregon.

After Armin read and reviewed The Remnants, he attended Robert’s appearance at Another Read Through to meet him.

robert and armin

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