saccade (sa’ka:d) n. [French, twitch, from Old North French saqiuer, to pull] any of the rapid, involuntary jumps made by the eyes from one fixed point to another.
“Sometimes I think they can’t even see me. I ask myself sometimes, in supermarkets and places, if I actually exist, or if all this is just in my imagination.”
Sam Kite is plagued by panic attacks, lives alone and works in a dead-end job. But like most of the people he knows, he only pretends to be working. His life is pathetic. He lives in fear of “The Almighty Crunch”, which he senses is impending:
“I can think of a lot of terrible things that could happen. Most of them small, personal things, so that’s just me being selfish. The sad thing is that most of the big things might be doing the planet a favour.”
His fantasy is to live “in a comfortable glow of self-appreciation”. When his half-hearted suicide attempt is foiled by a nameless ‘guardian stranger’, by chance Kite encounters “The White Woman”, an eye-catching squatter called Grace Starling; a deep, once seen, never to be forgotten kind of woman.
Sam Kite tries to impress himself on the world by repeating to the mirror each morning, “My name is Sam Kite and life is great.” Half right is as good as it gets. His happiness finds its true expression only on film, in his collection of classic DVDs. “If I felt I was in the rat race I’d want to get out of it, but I’m a non-starter.”
Yet even a man like Kite is capable of changing things for the better.
“Chris Bell’s Saccade is a beautifully constructed, heartfelt work. Expertly weaving in multiple plotlines, Bell creates a story of loss, love, and ultimately redemption … It is, of course, a testament to his skill that he constructs such a complex plot without allowing too many threads to slip away, but that he is so precise with his diction is what sets him apart from other writers. He has a gift for emotionally loaded, short, concise statements.” Sophia Ioannou, Seven Stories Press