Icarus Never Flew Round Here by Matt Edwards is a starred book review
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STARRED Book Review: Icarus Never Flew ‘Round Here

ICARUS NEVER FLEW ROUND HERE by Matt Edwards is a curious portrait of a cattle rancher searching for meaning. Check out more of what Madeline Barbush has to say in her book review of this Atmosphere Press novel.

Book Review: Icarus Never Flew ‘Round Here

Reviewed by Madeline Barbush

A curious portrait of a cattle rancher searching for meaning

Dale Samuel doesn’t know the meaning of life, if there is one, so he asks the sky. Blunt and raw in style, author Matt Edwards crafts this indelicate Frankensteinian tale of one man’s poorly cobbled-together idea of god and creation and the power that these entities hold. 

Although wrought with so many exciting concepts and themes, Edwards explores particularly well the idea of loneliness and the danger of being only with our thoughts for too long.

Dale Samuel works by himself every day in the Oregon High Desert. He is a simple man of few words and enjoys that his hard work provides everything for him and his wife to live. He is married to Janice, who cannot have children. Dale doesn’t feel cursed, although Janice feels he certainly has reason to. 

Their existence is just so until Dale comes upon a mysterious object on his land. The desire to figure out what it is begins to drive his curiosity, which was all but nonexistent before. Dale questions if everything exists and happens for a reason. 

He asks himself, “What’s it there for? What’s the point?” He works the land and the hard work is what seems to keep him going in life, but could he be meant for more? Dale begins to see everything on a much larger scale, and those around him begin to note he is talking more than ever, philosophizing even, but what happens when our interests and curiosities are ignored? What happens when we want answers and find out there might not be any?   

There is an eerie darkness to Dale, but at the same time an innocence and a curiosity that is so pure. Edwards knows how to create quirky characters who are complex and who surprise us. Dale’s increasing questioning of life is at first endearing, but over time, Edwards subtly takes us down a rabbit-hole with Dale. He always makes him a few paces ahead of us. 

While we’re looking back and trying to get him to come back home—he already doesn’t hear us and has his sights set on some other destination. We are forced to follow. Edwards sure knows how to create a haunting dread within his readers. Dale’s run-ins with people around town let us into who Dale once was and who he is becoming. 

These lonely desert towns are such excellent settings to expose the underbelly of American culture. I love how Edwards chooses a cattle rancher who is selective with which kind of cattle he breeds. Although Edwards deals with vast ideas, his attention to detail, especially in regards to place and dialect, brings a specificity to the world of the novel. The tone is always beautifully set. 

There is a genuine Americana feel to this novel; you see the dust of the highway getting blown out by Dale’s Chevy Silverado, and you feel the loneliness of the west in places like Dale and Janice’s kitchen where Dale always finds Janice alone working. There is a quiet sadness to it all that makes Dale’s journey make sense. The locals have long been settled into their existence and have no reason to believe Dale isn’t either. 

I highly recommend Icarus Never Flew ‘Round Here. It’s a novel that surprises you, makes you uneasy, and flies by in an instant. Matt Edwards creates a surreal world seen through the eyes of a cattle rancher who, once settled and serene, becomes hungry for meaning. It’s a quiet and slow sort of anxiety but one you can put back down, although in this case, I doubt you will want to. 

Publisher: Atmosphere Press

Genre: Literary & General Fiction

Print Length: 160 pages

ISBN: 978-1639885527

Thank you for reading Madeline Barbush’s book review of Icarus Never Flew ‘Round Here by Matt Edwards! If you liked what you read, please spend some more time with us at the links below.

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