Ryan Baron North
I finally finished my BA, so now I can get back to focusing on the things that matter: A fledgling writing career and a podcast about drunk philosophy.
Those are the answers. They’re going to unlock, for me, my purpose and meaning. A man can dream.
To celebrate my first night getting back to it, I wanted to share my thoughts on an amazing novel I just finished: The Whisper Man by Alex North.
Lately, I’ve been on a bit of a True Crime kick. It started with The Cecil Hotel Documentary, and it wasn’t until halfway through that I realized I had stayed at The Cecil several times. People died there, but not once do they mention the complementary waffles. Media bias. Then, it was the Night Stalker one about Richard Ramirez.
And that led me to North’s book. I had just come off a novel I did not care for, and I was desperate. I started reading The Whisper Man, and it hooked me immediately.
In short, it’s a story about a series of killings that claimed the life of several children over two decades ago. The narrative takes place in the present and follows the detective who solved the original Whisper Killings, a father and his son (the same general age as the Whisper Victims), a second detective, and a few other key characters.
There is a new killer mimicking the Whisper Man from 20 years before. He waits outside the windows of children and whispers to them in their beds, grooming them until he takes them away forever—a parent’s worst nightmare. I’m sure you can guess that the killer strikes a little close to home for one of the chief characters.
The novel is mostly 3rd person except the father, Tom Kennedy; those scenes are written in the 1st person perspective. I stick to stories in the 3rd person, but I did not mind The Whisper Man. I actually felt that it added to the prose. Why did I include that? When I’m searching for a new book at the ol’ B n’ N, If I see something written in anything but 3rd person, I put it down. Just a preference—not a comment. I wish more reviews told me. It would save a ton of time.
Something that I want to say of one theme—and it’s not just Alex’s book. A common theme in Western Culture is the notion of—I’ll call it “total atonement.” In the novel, one character had dealt with a couple demons. In their earlier years, they succumbed to alcoholism, they, in a fit of drunkenness, struck their spouse, and it destroyed the relationship and the character. He spent years escaping the bottle, regimenting his life to regain control, and punishing himself day in and day out.
I am not condoning any terrible thing this person did. But in movies and fiction, when we see a character do something wrong, the audience can guess, with certainty, that no matter what good the character does afterwards, they will die. There is a cultural expectation that when you fuck up, the best you can do is spend the rest of your life atoning before you die. Death is the final requirement in order to find redemption. And I want to say… that’s kind of unhealthy…
Life is a crazy, fucked-up thing, and we all make mistakes along the way. But our stories instill us with this expectation that there can be no forgiveness without the ultimate sacrifice. I mean… what are we setting ourselves up for? Look, have never made a mistake in your entire life—ever—congratulations. You’re one-in-a-million and I am honored to have one so holy reading my blog. But for the rest of us… we all fuck up. We all do things we regret. The very nature of our natures will ensure that within the course of our lifetime, we will dent and ding the people in our path.
But don’t think I’m here giving out free passes. If you hurt someone, if you do wrong, if you do bad… you should feel bad. Just not forever. And you don’t need to die to redeem yourself. This isn’t fucking Star Wars. You’re going to fuck up. We are all going to fuck up. Even after we said that we won’t fuck up again—we’re probably going to fuck up again. Life is long, after all.
The best you can do is not make the same mistakes twice. If you say you are going to be better, be better. Be a little better tomorrow than today. Don’t just post a quote on Facebook claiming personal growth and then do the same shit.
Do better. Remember that we all screw up. Don’t let self-discipline turn into self-punishment—it’s easy to go down that road, trust me. And when you have learned your lesson… forgive yourself. You aren’t perfect. None of us are. And if you are struggling, please, please, please get help. There’s nothing to be ashamed of in recognizing that you need it. Honestly, it shows how strong you are.
So anyway. The Whisper Man by Alex North. It is an amazing novel. I will never, never criticize another writer’s work—who the fuck am I? But if I take the time to write a review for a story, I thought it was well worth the read.
Thanks for reading. And Alex North, thanks for writing.
Ryan Baron North
3/5/2021 11:25:34 am
Written well man. Part of life is regret, but we also have to remember so is forgiveness. That includes forgiving ourselves. Very excited for everything you plan to share in the upcoming future!
3/5/2021 06:00:05 pm
I died reading, “Buy Ryan an energy drink” - $2.99. I can relate to the crime stories. I watch every crime/murder documentary I can find. Every few months, they take a toll on me and I have to take a break from them for a while. They can take you to some dark places, while others make you so angry with the police work/negligence/crookedness!
3/7/2021 06:26:20 pm
Congratulations on the BA! I am so proud of you. What a huge accomplishment. I will have to check out The Whisper Man after reading your post. It sounds so good!
3/8/2021 04:46:30 pm
Congratulations! Man the feeling of setting a goal and completing it is beyond euphoric. I hope that whatever path you choose to take is filled with mystery and excitement just like the books you love to read. I'm not big on crime novels but it does sound like an interesting read. Also well said. I have made many mistakes in my life. Most of the times when I drink, I say "this is my last shot", but it's NOT. And that my friend is a huge mistake. Hangover leads to the "get me through this and I'll never drink again", but that my friend is a lie 🤥. Maybe I do need help, maybe I don't. Nonetheless, it's nice to know that I should not feel bad about this forever. What a relief. A relief worth drinking to. So I raise my glass to you getting your BA, you writing again, your podcast, and my new found relief. Congratulations again and cheers 🥂.
11/5/2022 08:48:42 am
Grow son include part mention set situation. Station yeah company piece data.
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