Review: The Stages by Thom Satterlee

The Stages by Thom Satterlee
Release Date: October 13, 2015
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Pages: 224
Source: Book provided by the publisher for review

 

 

He trusts everyone, when he shouldn’t trust anyone.

How does a man with Asperger’s Syndrome step out of his office, leave behind the safety of his desk and books, and embrace the world he’s always kept at arm’s length?

All his life, Daniel Peters has hidden behind his reputation as one of the world’s best translators of the iconic philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. When his beloved ex-girlfriend and mentor dies under odd circumstances and a priceless Kierkegaard manuscript goes missing, Daniel turns out to be the last person to have seen her alive. To clear his name, he must leave the safety of his books and venture out into the streets of Copenhagen.

Reminiscent of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime, this mystery will keep readers guessing until the final page.

 

Review: I love reading books that take a different view of life, such as through the eyes of someone in a foreign country or from someone with Asperger’s Syndrome. It’s a plus that this book delivers both.

Daniel has a very straight-forward outlook on the world. It’s not convoluted by excess emotions or worrying about what other people are feeling. At the same time, he doesn’t comprehend facial expressions and has a hard time knowing if someone is happy with him or upset.

I also admire his take on some of the things we, as a human race, do which don’t always make a lot of sense. After the death of his boss, he sees folded notes on her office door and wonders, “Why leave notes to the dead only to have them read by the living?” He eschews modern technology and seems much happier for it. At one point he is forced to plug in his eighteen-year-old phone so he fully reads the instruction manual and makes sure he knows what each part of the phone is and does before plugging it into the wall.

I also loved his translation process, as thought out in relation to another problem he was having.

It’s not enough to know what a particular word means; I must also understand what the word means in the context of others. I must consider diction, whether all the words in a sentence are equally formal or informal. I must listen closely to the sounds the words make together, and not just neighboring words, but also words from, so to speak, the other end of the street, even from different streets in the same town. I must, sometimes, study a passage over and over, waiting for comprehension to reveal itself, much like walking through a foreign landscape and getting lost enough times to finally know your way around.

I was in Copenhagen years ago and found it beautiful. While reading, I kept trying to place certain buildings and streets – which is very hard 20 years later – but Satterlee made them jump out of the book and back into my head. Now I want to go back and walk along the Strøget and Nyhavn and tour Christiansborg Palace and Tivoli Gardens.

The Stages is a wonderful mystery full of interesting characters and intriguing back-story. Satterlee brought a foreign city to life in my mind and I learned more about Kierkegaard than I thought I would ever know. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Daniel and being able to get a glimpse of his view of life.