Pain is an unfortunate reality of the human existence. Alongside other tumultuous emotions, pain is perhaps the most grievous in that it tends to shame all other concurrent life events that dwell near it. It overpowers and ruminates. It is the human emotion that befalls us all at one time or another, and is an inherent component of what comprises the elusive human condition.
Ian McRae’s masterful “The Second Wager” takes said emotion and uses it as a tool for personal growth and development. He skillfully uses pain and all of its lamentable fibers as a foundation for the propulsion of one’s journey through the oft-difficult survival of our species. Agony is a key fundamental of the survival of the fittest. In his book, McRae lures in the reader with his hypnotic writing style and voice. From the opening pages, the reader can almost hear a deep, booming voice of a certain omniscient narrator as the story of Rassimus Flur begins to unravel before us in all of its unflinching guts and glory.
In the wake of an uncomfortable event with his employer, Rassimus finds his world turned upside down, and then some. A man who prides himself on his ability to organize, sort, and live cleanly soon realizes that all of what he held onto for stability has quickly been pulled out of his reach. What follows is a profound character study wherein Rassimus begins to question what defines true happiness.
The novel has a tinge of sadness to it, not surprising given its subject matter and plight of the protagonist. There is no disputing the notion that this must be a very personal tale for McRae to tell as his word selection and evoked emotions are raw, expressive and true. The characters that come and go from Rassimus’ life throughout the books pages all serve a greater good and are clearly a commentary on life’s propensity to make us question our own motivations. Phobos, like Mars’ inevitably doomed moon, is a lesson in awareness.
I enjoyed McRae’s unique style of character naming. I can truly say some names’ I have never heard before, but are beautiful nonetheless. Rassimus ability to not let life’s events that befall him define his self-worth is the overall lesson to be taken away from this great work. It’s a reminder to all of us that life is so precious, and it really is the little things that have the biggest impact on our own personal journey to happiness, whatever that may be.