A Review Of The Novel
The Sonderman Constellation
Review by David A. Adams
The Sonderman Constellation by R. E. Prindle, 210 pages iUniverse, 2008. 14.95.
Sooner or later we all have the task of reconciling our childhood pasts with an adult present. Most do it by living through the ordeals, then promptly forgetting the painful slings and arrows, or, as Freud would have it, by burying the past in a more or less comfortable neurosis we learn to live with this side of a more destructive psychosis.
In “The Sonderman Constellation,” R.E. Prindle manages to pull us through the ordeal of childhood and early manhood kicking and screaming at each of the forces that somehow make us what we are. The novel is a Bildungsroman that drives full speed through a Freudian slash Jungian analysis of his early years in a fictional account of what made the man who he is today.
Even though the author disclaims a direct relationship the various personas found between the lines, the masks are familiar ones, which makes the story ring true. Even though the canvas is framed within the terms of the various psychologies of both Freud and Jung, the picture is a a large one, showing a subtle mind at work.
At times, I wish that Prindle had simply told us the story without the constant battering of Jungian terminology. It is a compelling story that could stand on its own without psychoanalyzing each step of the way. Hesse did this over and over again in each of his novels, even though he was writing within a similar Jungian framework. However, it does give us an interesting account of a strong self-analysis that is quite remarkable.
Yet, I must admit the story is more than a simple case-study. The fictional writing is strong enough to overcome what might seem to be an uncomfortable dragging by the hooks of psychological terminology. The “Constellation” of the story is what one might call in Jungian terms, a “complex” – all those events of a life that center around a certain problem, or in this case a person, who happens to be the “Sonderman.”
Sonderman is an obsession of sorts, a boy, and later a man who both truly is and truly symbolizes a constellation about which the narrator’s life circles. There are other “constellations” or personas in this story, all all of them meet and sometimes collide like wandering stars as the story turns upon its fictional orbits. We are drawn along by the gravitational vortices of these lives and hopefully come out the other end of this intergalactic worm-hole through a life of a novel the better for the ride.
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