We generally maintain the view we are in control of our lives despite the situations which pop up to remind us we are part of a larger web of cause and effect. From random chance to forgotten inevitability, accidents happen and everything has its own ticking clock whether we hear it or not. And yet we push on, making the day to day decisions that would direct our lives. It’s a difficult question to answer: when are we pilots across the sea of life, and when are we just tossed by its waves? Caught in the wash of this question is Gareth E. Rees’ highly personal and dark The Stone Tide: Adventures at the End of the World (2018, Influx Press).
The Stone Tide is (uncoincidentally) the story of a writer named Gareth. Leaving London and moving to the sea-side town of Hastings with his wife and children, they buy a fixer-upper and begin investing time and money renovating the house. Gareth still dealing with the loss of a close friend, he ponders his unexpected death while wandering the streets, hills, and parks of Hastings with his dog, Hendrix. Memories of childhood, ideas for stories, and historical knowledge of his new city likewise criss-crossing his mind, finding out he has problems with his prostate only further occupy Gareth’s mind, leaving him to wonder whether the life he’s lead is not as he thought it was.