The parties were Bram’s idea-
For a long time
they were the best-kept secret
in the city.
They ended one night
when Al nearly killed Raphael.
Margaret Wild isn’t the first writer to pen a novel written in poems, but One Night is the first poetic novel ever read. One Night tells the story of three friends, Gabe (the beautiful one), Al (the wild partier) and Bram (the planner). They’re in their last year of high school somewhere in Australia. Their personalities are revealed slowly, little snapshots that illuminate them, make them more than what they seem on the surface. Bram, for example “catches two buses to school,/ and never brings friends home.” Al wears a coat summer and winter because “without it he would be/ a snail without it’s shell-/soft/exposed/defenseless.”
Into the boys’ world comes Helen. She has a damaged face and a dazzling smile. Just one night and one of the boy’s lives is forever changed.
One Night only took a couple hours to read, but that doesn’t mean that Wild’s novel is lightweight. These characters are fully realized. In just a few short lines, Wild had me feeling tremendous sympathy for Bram, a character who appears to be – on the surface at least – all hard edges. One Night captures the daring sense of ‘anything goes’ shared by many young people; the notion that actions have no real consequences. In Helen, we have a character willing to make sacrifices and decisions far beyond her years.
One Night is also about family. It isn’t only biology that binds us; sometimes we choose our families out of need and circumstances and sometimes these families serve us better than those we came by naturally.
One Night is a terrific novel – timely and beautifully witten.