Hidden amongst the words and paragraphs of Three Dreams In the Key Of G is a secret code that is begging to be deciphered. It’s there, the ultimate thesis Marc Nash wants us to take away from his story, I can see it. But, every time I thought I had a good grasp on it, Nash moved us to a different perspective and I had to start all over again. Three Dreams is a very interesting book, one that I’ll be pondering for a long time, but ultimately left me hanging.
I wish I could give you the exact plot of the book. I know it has to do with three characters: a mother, an older woman whom might be the head of a cult, and DNA. The book weaves between the three of them, the Mother telling us her story through her diary, the old woman, Jean, writing in her blog, and DNA speaking to us with its different genome sequences.
Their stories are told through a rambling stream of conscious. Thoughts jump from one thing to the next, sometimes going off on a tangent before settling on a point they were trying to make pages before. Some of the passages are beautiful, highlighting Nash’s mastery of the English language. It’s just too bad they are hidden amongst a slog of sentences that bog down the beauty.
I’m not the biggest fan of stories written in this style. I can appreciate the work. Nash’s ability to find three unique and fully realised voices is top notch. I just have a hard time following the train of thought, sometimes getting lost on one path before realising the narrator has moved on to something else.
At times I found it easier to let the words flow and see if I could discern what was important. Maybe that’s the reason why Nash wrote it in this style, forcing the reader to determine what they want to get out of the story. I’m all for a story making me work, but at times it didn’t feel like the effort was worth it.
It’s not all incoherent. The Mother’s section is the most grounded of the three. Through the intimacy of her journal we are instantly connected to her and her thoughts on motherhood. She lays it all out, the mundane, the wonderful, and the heartbreaking. She lays herself bare holding nothing back. The questions she pose are probably the same ones every parent has asked. Did she say the right thing? Who should she invite to a birthday party? What will the children think of her when they are older?
The other two characters have the more wild and unpredictable stories. At times they were fun, at other times they were more confusing.
Jean works at a women’s clinic and believes that men are the cause of all the problems of the world. She has an idea of removing the Y chromosome from DNA to eventually fill the world with just females. Cool, I get that. It’s a neat concept that I think would be awesome to explore. But, she is so focused on being smart and cute on her blog that it just comes across as someone that wants attention. She alludes to the clinic being under siege by the FBI, but we never truly get to see it. Which leads me to wondering if it was true or it was just something she made up for her blog.
Then we have DNA defending its right to protect its secrets. Which gives us a sort of trial situation, with DNA on the stand defending itself through bizarre typography and layout styles. Nash uses a lot of unique word choices, digging deep into the dictionary and thesaurus to give DNA a smarmy attitude. It feels a bit like a Word-of-the-day calendar, which can be fun but can also pull you out of the story.
When I was done with Three Dreams In The Key Of G I was exhausted. My brain felt like it had been through an intense workout. Nash is at the top of his game with this amazing feat of fiction. I don’t know if it’ll be for everyone, stream of conscious stories are definitely an acquired taste. But, the ideas presented in here make it worth the effort and time you’ll put into reading it.
Three Dreams in the Key of G is published by Dead Ink and is available here.
Marc Nash has published five collections of flash fiction and four novels, all of which look to push narrative form and language. He also works with videographers to turn some of his work into digital storytelling. He lives and works in London in the NGO realm.
Reviewed by Matt Brandenburg
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