The Art of Sufficient Conclusions

Sarah Dearling (Mansfield Press)

“The desire for facts and the need for fiction are often interchangeable....” And that is exactly the attitude Sarah Dearling takes in her newest novel. I have difficulty calling it a novel because the ever-tenuous genre does not quite apply. Half-memoir, half-fiction, The Art of Sufficient Conclusions follows a young, troubled teacher who stands in place of the author, as she follows her lover to London, England, and is compelled by a search for her long lost father—a silent film actor sold to a sculptor—who seems to evade her at every turn. With an air of slightly pretentious confidence paired with a narrative voice of scientific exactness, this odd little book is largely a philosophical tangent accessorized by a plot that, at times, seems secondary to the author’s meandering thoughts on truth, love, art, grief, and memory. While I respect it, I didn’t quite enjoy it.

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