Writing, Reading, and Smiling . . . It's Contagious.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Review of Jillian's Gold by Levi Montgomery

Is gold where you find it?

Jillian's Gold by Levi Montgomery
Jillian Decker discovered it by “watching the sun melt into the ocean . . . how, in those last few moments, it melts into liquid gold on the waves, and skitters away, circling around behind you for tomorrow’s sunrise” (Montgomery 14).

I recently discovered gold in one of Levi Montgomery’s latest novels entitled Jillian’s Gold. 

Jillian’s Gold is the story of Jillian Decker and Royal Greene, two teenagers on the brink of adulthood struggling to find themselves and each other in this powerful novel of hope, understanding, and self-discovery.

Throughout this journey the reader is emotionally involved in these complex characters’ lives. We witness the subtraction of Jillian’s mother from society’s ranks and experience the anguish Jillian suffers until she meets another wandering soul. This soul, stumbling, sometimes fighting, through life is a young man named Royal. Although troubled himself, he may be the gold Jillian seeks after the evening sun fades in the sanctuary of her beloved sun-room. One problem lies within this theory, however, disrupting Jillian’s newfound happiness. Lurking within her is the suspicion that her savior might be a sociopath and a killer.

Levi Montgomery continues to shock us in this startling, yet honest portrayal of life. Although at times I felt that the onslaught of traumatic events deterred my focus, the author cushioned the assault with the simplicity and beauty of the characters’ words. This work combines narration, notes, journal entries, and thoughts into a working harmony like the collage of glass structuring Jillian’s golden haven. I was dubious of this writing style before beginning the story, but as the first scenes unfolded I was captivated, anticipating the characters’ comments and thoughts (presented in fonts matching their personalities), as much as I did the wave of events to follow. 

Although Jillian’s Gold is centered around the lives of young adults, do not misunderstand its audience or intent. Levi Montgomery chronicles the rite of passage each of us, young or old, must bear. This is a work that focuses upon the essence of the human condition and analyzes the path to self-actualization. 

Readers will see this modern work as both poignant and riveting, a welcome interruption of the mainstream products flooding their homes and lives. Writers will appreciate it as a bold, successful effort that challenges their notions of writing, theme, and presentation.

As both a writer and reader, I was compelled to ask Levi Montgomery about this interesting work. I contacted him and he took the time to answer my questions. 

1. Jillian’s Gold is a novel centered upon the lives and experiences involving two teenagers. In fact, many of your stories are a snapshot of “coming of age.” Why choose this particular stage in life? 

Levi Mongtomery
John Ciardi once said “A poem’s only meaning is its own performance of itself.” As much as I agree with that, I’d like to paraphrase it: Fiction’s only meaning is its performance of truth. Fiction is about truth, or it’s about nothing. Fiction is about the truth of who we are, and who we think we are, and who others think we are. It’s about the truth that all of those are wrong. And who we are only comes out in times of stress. Stress strips away the paint and the draperies and the wallpaper, and lays us bare before the world, and the one great stress we all go through is that period of realizing that play-time is over, and this thing we’re living is our life. 

2. One of the most interesting aspects of this book is the switching of point of view and its achievement through the epistolary format. What was the inspiration for this choice? 

It was a part of the assignment I set myself, but the reasons why are getting foggy. I don’t much like first-person, as it’s rather limiting, and I am fascinated by the possibilities inherent in switching viewpoints, so it seemed like a good idea. I think the most pivotal book I’ve seen, in terms of impact on my idea of viewpoint, was The Pigman, which I read about a zillion years ago. 

3. Was it difficult for you to “speak” to your readers in the voice of a teenage girl? Did you find this harder or easier than speaking through the sociopath who haunts this novel and its characters? 

Of the five novels and nine novellas I’ve written, four of each deal extensively with teenage girls, and I’ve gotten used to being told that I handle that rather well. I don’t know if that’s true, but I hear it mostly from women and teenage girls, so that must mean something. The sociopath, though, now that was hard. That’s a very icky feeling, although he’s not my only socio/psychopath. 

4. Readers often have different opinions about the main theme of a novel. As a writer, what is the one theme or aspect that you want ALL readers to discover through this work? In other words, what does this novel mean to you? 

Theme. Mm, yeah. Read this: http://www.levimontgomery.com/index.php/about-2/ It’s the fifth question down in the Q&A section. I’m not being snotty, I just don’t know anything about theme, in anybody’s work, much less my own. 

5. Can you tell us something about Jillian’s Gold that we don’t know? 

The first narrative chapter was originally a stand-alone short story, until I realized that I was going to need that character to come into this novel and accomplish some things for me. 

6. Do you have any other new projects that we should be focusing upon? What are your future writing plans?

In the time since I finished JG, I’ve written two short novels, Light Always Changes, which can be read at www.lightalwayschangesnovel.wordpress.com or ordered in print from my website, and A Place to Die, not currently available. If someone wants it, they can email me.

Future writing plans? Yeah: Read. Write. Repeat.


Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. We’ll all be looking forward to your next work.

Readers, I’m leaving you with one last thought:

Jillian’s Gold is a rare find and a rare experience.

Gold is where you find it.


As always, I love to hear from you. If you’re in the cyber-neighborhood, drop me a line.

In the meantime, keep writing, reading, and smiling.
It’s contagious.


Images courtesy of Levi Montgomery


Levi Montgomery said...

Thank you so much for this! It was a pleasure to talk to you.

J.E. Seanachaí said...

And thank you for lending your time! It's a rare treat when authors openly discuss their work.

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