“I felt a Funeral in my Brain” a novel by Will Walton

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading – treading – till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through –

And then I heard them lift a Box
And creak across my Soul
With those same Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space – began to toll,

And when they all were seated,
A Service, like a Drum –
Kept beating – beating – till I thought
My mind was going numb –

As all the Heavens were a Bell,
And Being, but an Ear,
And I, and Silence, some strange Race,
Wrecked, solitary, here –

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down –
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing – then –

Emily Dickinson ( 1896)

Queer young adult novelist Will Walton’s second novel I feel a Funeral in my Brain is an astounding piece of writing. Editor of the PUSH imprint at Scholastic and legendary author himself, David Leviathan
sums it up well as a “brilliant and bonkers melding of poetry and prose“. 

To briefly sum up the book (if possible!) is that it is about a grieving Avery whose life is topsy-turvy at the moment. He is wheel-chair bound for a while due to an injury caused in an car accident when his mother was driving whether under the influence of alcohol or not is unclear. Avery is also figuring out his sexuality while exploring a relationship with his best friend/classmate/neighbour while looking after his alcoholic mother, living with a grandfather who too has his own set of challenges and discovering his anchor in the world of poetry/poets who came and went leaving a trail of their own set of complicated challenges. 

I feel a Funeral in my Brain  is obviously a tribute to the great American poets including to Emily Dickinson as is evident in its direct reference in the book title but the novel itself is equally experimental in form. Depending on how the young protagonist Avery is feeling the rhythm of the text reflects his mood. Complicated and not an easy read yet once you immerse yourself in it and do not read it with the expectations of a traditional reader, it will leave you thinking and wondering about a lot of issues. 

Read it. 

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