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Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite
The Deep Translucent Pond by James Shelley is a literary fiction novel that explores the human condition through the lens of three poets at different stages of their lives. After conducting an entrance exam, The Black Magus, a reclusive poet working on a ten-year project called The Triangulum, selects forty-year-old attorney Jerome Konigsberg, and thirty-year-old nurse Natalija Gasper, out of over a dozen students as part of his poetry fellowship. Despite his numerous eccentricities, Jerome and Natalija soon acclimatize themselves to The Black Magus's oddities and bring him the weekly writing pieces to complete their mysterious project. As they work together, the students gradually begin to look at life through the Magus's eyes. Meanwhile, the Magus himself finds contentment sharing his vast knowledge and experiences with his fellow younger poets.
Author James Shelley's slice-of-life story perfectly demonstrates how shared work experiences over a piece of art help people navigate the daily rigors of life and draw their problems away, even if only for a while. The Deep Translucent Pond is heartfelt, bittersweet, and surprisingly poignant. Each of the characters, Jerome, Natalija, and the Magus, come from vastly different backgrounds with their own share of problems. While the Magus is a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, Natalija suffers from constant bouts of depression. Jerome, meanwhile, searches for something meaningful to define his life. The three of them together form a compelling dynamic, and it gives the narrative thrust to the story. If you love character-driven stories about the human condition, I highly recommend The Deep Translucent Pond.