Scott Sommer Paul Ableman - Essay

Paul Ableman

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Naturally, the kids will love [Scott Sommer's Nearing's Grace]. It is every switched-on adolescent's private phantasy. But what of the grown-up reader? Does Nearing's Grace offer anything to him? The disconcerting answer is: a great deal. Because Scott Sommer turns out to be a natural writer and every discriminating reader, young or old, will derive from his book the joy of words used to illuminate, tease, delight and amuse, will, in other words, find in these pages a true, if slight, work of literature. I would like to quote a passage that will reveal Mr Sommer at his substantial best. But it is difficult because the book is written in a spaced-out vernacular that ambles along and then suddenly soars into lyricism, psychological insight and even compassionate understanding. Perhaps the best I can do is quote three metaphors from three consecutive pages. 'Memory bullied its way into my thoughts like a cop into a crowd.' 'Even as a young boy I could feel her loneliness screaming desperately as a crow.' And the charmingly indelicate: 'When she kissed me, my testicles did pushups.' It is, of course, too early to say if Mr Sommer will succeed in harnessing his talent to broader and more urgent themes in the future but this, his maiden flight, is a joy to behold.

Paul Ableman, "Maiden Flight," in The Spectator (© 1980 by The Spectator; reprinted by permission of The Spectator), Vol. 245, No. 7935, August 9, 1980, p. 21.