Static Control

Static Control

A review of Static Control by Ann Diamond

Published on October 1, 2006

Static Control
Ann Diamond


“The truth. That is your greatest weapon. Just be careful how you use it.”

Universal truth, universal warning. Perhaps it came too early – or too late – for Nova, the snake-haired girl with the gun in her pocket. Perhaps it came before she fully grasped her truth.

Nova wanders through the Mediterranean, looking for the truth of her dead mother and the father she intends to find, to meet, and to kill. Her story, Static Control, unfolds through the points of view, experiences, and narrative voices of the girl herself; her father Dietrich Sol, a fading rocking star; Dietrich’s second ex-wife, Martine; his fiancée Angela; and Ralph Shore, entrepreneur and president of Static Control, who is bent on selling his product to a Middle East dictator. The setting, for the most part, is the island of Xeros.

What is Static Control? The answer depends on the emotional and financial needs of the tellers. To Ralph, it is something “that stops things from sticking to you.” For Mamoud, Ralph’s Middle East partner, it is “a technology for eliminating the sins of the past.” For Angela it is “something to do with astronauts and spacecraft.” For Nova, who is responsible for orchestrating the probability of activating the device, it “has something to do with bombs.” For a world on the cusp of destruction, it is a powerful tool for good or for evil.

But the good and evil in Diamond’s story ranges far beyond technology and politics: “Women have always fascinated me. Ready to sacrifice themselves and their self-respect to the goal of holding onto a man. Frittering away all that energy on a guy like me.” Really. How much evil can there be in a man who says that? But for some of the women involved with Dietrich, there is more at stake than self-respect.

A novelist who chooses self-publishing, as Diamond has done here, should have a sure sense of purpose as well as style, a sensitivity for editing, and a feel for the final product. Diamond, a former winner of the QWF Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction, has succeeded. The rapid shifts from character to character could, in lesser hands, have distracted and confused. Instead they propel the story.

“At the Hotel Artimus, they keep a notebook in a glass case, all the words blurred by sea water, and legible only if you know the story.” Nova experiences the truth of her mother and finds her father. Whether she finds herself in the process is left for the reader to discern. Perhaps the answer lies more in her solution for the Static Control device entrusted to her keeping than in how she handles the truth of her own story. mRb

Joan Eyolfson Cadham is a freelance writer from Foam Lake, Saskatchewan who has spent many hours on the pleasure side of the counter of Montreal pastry shops.



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