"review" · concenter · fiction · Lit · mystery · recommend · wondermous · young adult lit

{book} there is more than this

more than this coverMore Than This by Patrick Ness

Candlewick Press, 2013.

Hardcover 472 pages in 4 parts

More Than This is hard to talk about without giving too much away. I can’t even ‘tag’ the post w/ a genre as it would prove too suggestive. So I will do my best to keep this spoiler-free because it is a phenomenal book.

You can know that Patrick Ness’ More Than This is the story of a young man Seth who has violently drowned off the Washington state coastline and wakes up on the front walk of his childhood home back in England. The village appears abandoned, weeds grown up, few wildlife, no electricity, years of dust and decay. It is a place that his family had left behind when he was eight but it has always haunted them. The atmosphere is apocalyptic and it only gets more bizarre.

More Than This is a mystery novel as the events leading up to his death are slow to unfold and where he wakes and why is the work of the novel. Both lines of inquiry come together in the end, and both circle the titular longing.

“Worse, it had been accompanied by an equally hard lifelong yearning, a feeling that there had to be more, more than just all this weight.

“Because if there wasn’t, what was the point?” (132)

You should know that Patrick Ness writes one of the most tender and precious of love stories. One of the most exciting selling points of this novel is how much it works to diverge from the usual Teen fare. I think he expresses the depth of feeling many try to do without explicit sexual encounters better than anyone I’ve read of Teen fiction thus far. He impresses me further in separating romantic sentiment from the sexual act later on. 

There is also a lot of heartbreak. More Than This is difficult, and not only on a reader’s patience (Ness is unhurried). Ness deals in difficult subject matters. Skimming goodreads reviews, I saw mentioned more than once that this was an “important book.” To be honest I crinkled my nose at that. Now I owe some apologies. The final chapters are too sincere to be message-y as the journey realizes many of the sentiments before Seth shares what he’s come to learn. There are things young people should know (and heck, older readers could be reminded of), a perspective to consider.

More Than This has some heady-stuff, but Ness proves just as adept at action. There are some crazy chase scenes and a pretty terrifying predator. And the characters are marvelous. I would say more, but, again, I do not want to give too much away. Spared the first person narrator—how refreshing—the third limited observes a well-grounded protagonist. He is wonderfully normal and I especially dig the way his skepticism plays out after waking.

“It’s the kind of story—“

He stops again.

It’s the kind of story where everything’s explained by one big secret…” (237)

Or is it? Seth offers a lot of speculation as to what and how this new place works. Ness doesn’t try to hide the likely reader responses to the events at hand. He’s conscious of tropes, of popular stories and he works with them—and around them. What to believe and questions of where this is all going belong not only to Seth…and seriously, just how horrifying will it get?

This isn’t a novel you escape into. There is too much real life, too many ghosts. But Patrick Ness is brilliant, you should know that—you can expect that, but suspend yourself of anything else as Ness’ work is pushing against your usual Teenage fare, asking the question and understanding that there is more than this.

—————-

recommendations… boys & girls, 14 & up, who want to challenge some of the formulaic in young people fiction, who read literature, not just popular fiction, but for readers of popular works as well; for those who like good writing, are patient, and/or like puzzles. For those who like to experience love, humor, sadness, incredulity, anger, and human folly in a single novel; for those who’ve ever wondered if there was more than this—whatever the “this” is.

of note… find someone(s) to read this with.

though it is a 2013 read: the concenter-quality: a significant deuteragonist; lgbt

"review" · fiction · Lit · recommend · sci-fi/fantasy · wondermous · young adult lit

{book} seraphina

Seraphina (bk 1) by Rachel Hartman

Random House, 2012.

hardcover, 451 pages + “cast” & “glossary”. own copy.

  Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.
Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.
In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina’s tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they’ve turned the final page.—publisher’s comments

The enthusiasm surrounding Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina may worry some readers. I certainly didn’t want to be disappointed, and I tend to be extra critical of an absence of negative reviews. But, as is often the case, it is the recommendations of certain reviewers that sway us. I, who never buys a book without having read it at least once, bummed a few dollars off the daughter and she let me carry it home. I wasn’t disappointed.

There are several words that become overused in writing about a book and “entralling” is one of them. The overuse dulls the effect, despite the sincerity. However, there are few better words for the fascination Seraphina continually held for me.

I was cooking dinner on day two of the read and I was trying to figure out why I could not put the book down. Sure one chapter draws you into the other, but not always with cliff-hanging devisement or other. This is where “thrall” came to mind. I was absolutely drawn into the world Hartman created; a story, thank the Lord, that wasn’t about setting everything up before launching into story. Perhaps it was my impatience (a virtue of mine) but she was a breath a way of frustrating me with the truth about Seraphina (I’d forgotten the jacket copy, is there a clue in there?). And this is one of the things Hartman does well: her decisions about what to conceal and reveal, and when. She throws things in and you are aware of a detail you should store for later, but you have to surrender to the story and you won’t mind it. Hartman has a gorgeous story-tellers imagination and what’s worse is she is able to translate it to the page. She doesn’t drown you in prose, or overwhelm you with youthful angst. You may get a bit giddy by all the big words. She carries you off and away and it feels effortless because the writing is that refreshingly good.

I have to admit, too, it was the garden of the grotesques that won be over completely. Okay, her introduction to the dragon lore bit (which she unfurls wonderfully throughout) probably played a key role there at the beginning, too.

Back to the refreshment-track. I do not read a lot of Teen or YA or YA-crossover (which this feels like) primarily because I’ve a daughter whose 12, and because originality is so hard-won. It just isn’t the formula I like to set on rerun, so Seraphina is a joy. A few reasons why (w/ possible spoilers—sorry):

–book one and how many following? Seraphina could stand alone. but there is a set up. The only time I mentally pulled away from the text was this Seraphina as Professor X image near the end there. Anymore, I reflexively cringe: can we not have a ya book that will please just start and finish in 450 pages or less?! I am looking forward to book 2 (and not for redemptive purposes). Thank you, Ms. Hartman.

–the first person Ask N, First-Person narratives are another reason I do not read much YA, but I have to share: Hartman does not overdo the I. There are some moments I slipped into the comfort-feeling I get with 3rd-omniscient. I think more authors of Teen/YA should make a study of Seraphina.

triangles: not two guys and a girl, but two girls and a guy. And the other girl isn’t a horror; I kept waiting for it, and I suppose I am spoiling it here, but she just isn’t. This isn’t to say there aren’t a few close moments of “really?”, but it all plays into how painfully consistent Hartman is with her characters. Goodness knows Seraphina has her moments, too. Anyway, I expect complications will be just as heartbreaking into the next book…sigh.

the bad ass heroine. Seraphina reminds me a bit of Caragh O’Brien’s heroine in Birthmarked. And perhaps it is because they are both females dealing with marks against their beauty and femininity. They are also both very intelligent and act courageously against all normal impulse: “I did sound pretty crazy, when he put it that way; only I knew how scared I’d been” (252). I think others try to create characters like Seraphina, but it just doesn’t carry off convincingly enough. Seraphina begins as someone rare and special, but not in a way that guarantees her a role as hero, nor is she the overwrought victim. Her rarity, paired with the impetus of her courage, propels her into the role of hero, and it is so nicely done that when the Prince lists the brave things Seraphina has done to earn his awe (well into the read), you are with Seraphina in realizing that maybe she is this badass heroine.

swoon-worthy boy. Kiggs is a bit Sherlock Holmes (if Holmes could be distracted by girls) meets Prince Charming. The Holmes-Charming combination makes him a danger to Seraphina, which is a nice conflict to have. He is honorable and a blush, and tormented just enough to make him a heartbreaker. So I guess, not much differs there, except Hartman has yet to give them an easier way.

absent yet haunting mother. The circumstances here, and her role in the story ages Seraphina in lovely ways; not painlessly, but appreciatively. I would love to hear the mother’s story in a volume; but I suppose we do, in a way, through Seraphina.

“I scrupulously hid every legitimate reason for people to hate me, and then it turns out they don’t need legitimate reasons. Heaven has fashioned a knife of irony to stab me with” (124).

Seraphina has to find a way to deal with who she is and what (and whom) made her that way. “I opened my eyes. The clouds had parted; the moon shone gloriously across the snowy rooftops of the city. It was beautiful, which only made me hurt the more. How dare the world be beautiful when I was so horrifying?” (276). There is this low moment where she hurts herself and she realizes, “I could not live, hating myself this hard” (277). Something had to give, she had to find a way to deal with all the emotions, all the grotesqueries sentient living things have to deal with. The book is fraught with these kinds of conflicts, of finding a way to live both in the body and mind, in the emotional and intellectual. Seraphina is a bridge; and on both sides we see characters struggle. She is hardly alone. And not being alone is a necessary message in the book. Those who’ve come before have experienced similar, if not the same; others in the present struggle as well. “Once I had feared that telling the truth would be like falling, that love would be like hitting the ground, but here I was, my feet firmly planted, standing on my own. We were all monsters and bastards, and we were all beautiful” (450).

“Sometimes the truth has difficulty breaching the city walls of our beliefs. A lie, dressed in the correct livery, passes through more easily” (239).

Orma is one of my favorite characters. He threatens to overtake Seraphina as the most intriguing and most beautifully developed. If you are a character-driven reader, Hartman will not fail you, and if a cleverly strung plot is your spiked cup of tea, Seraphina will be a pleasure as well. Seraphina may prove difficult if you never mind an author slipping in an inconsistency to smooth the way for a tidier passage. Hartman follows courses you may desire to see averted. Seraphina’s decisions to lie or tell the truth wasn’t only a conflict her own. As a reader, I wasn’t sure how I would advise her. The complications engage the reader in empathic ways, and leaves the moralizing to whom? Compassion appears to be the better part of valor in Seraphina.

“The borderlands of madness used to have much sterner signage around them than they do now” (128).

I mentioned the garden and the grotesques. Hartman transports the reader into a variety of venues and populates these places with both the familiar and not. The saints, musicians, and philosophers are an inclusion not to be missed. (If you adore Frances Hardinge, like I do, you will like Hartman). Other authors came to mind at various points but in an affectionate way. Seraphinais like a breath of fresh air. A story this beautifully conceived and well-crafted should stand the test of time. Readers of fantasy or no, dragon lore or no, you’ll find this storyteller worth your time, just mind the hour Hartman begins to tell you about this girl named Seraphina and her world…or have a flashlight on hand.

*******

Deanna at “Polishing Mud Balls”: review.

Steph at “Steph Su Reads”: review.

Grace at “Books without any Pictures”: review.

"review" · fiction · juvenile lit · Lit · philosophy/criticism · poet-related · recommend · series · series · Uncategorized · wondermous

{book} my name is mina

Do you ever have the urge to write an author and transcriptionally hug and kiss them because of your profound gratitude for their having been born and having written this one particular book? I usually hug the book instead. And I’ve been hugging My Name is Mina the past few days. I should really write those living authors. I should write to David Almond.

I’d heard of My Name is Mina in passing. I think it was in a manner of whispers from the “Lucky Day” shelf in Juvenile Fiction at the Library. I picked it up the other day. I’m familiar with David Almond, should be good.  On the cover in small print: “One of the best novels of the last decade.” -Nick Hornby. I flipped open the cover and read:

Mina loves the night. While everyone else is in a deep slumber, she gazes out the window, witness to the moon’s silvery light. In the stillness, she can even hear her own heart beating. This is when Mina feels that anything is possible, that her imagination is set free.

A blank notebook lies on the table. It has been there for what seems like forever. Mina has proclaimed in the past that she will use it as a journal, and one night, at last, she begins to do just that. As she writes, Mina makes discoveries both trivial and profound about herself and her world, her thoughts and her dreams.

Award-winning author David Almond re-introduces readers to the perceptive, sensitive Mina before the events of Skellig in this lyrical and fantastical work. My Name Is Mina is not only a pleasure to read, it is an intimate and enlightening look at a character whose open mind and heart have much to teach us about life, love, and the mysteries that surround us. –inside jacket copy

I flipped pages and noted the unusual form. I balanced it on top of my seven volumes of Pluto. I was taking this book home to Natalya, whom instantly came to mind. She and Mina would be friends, minus the tree part. Well, maybe Mina could have talked her into climbing one. To be perfectly candid, I would linger in hopes of an invitation myself.

Then what shall I write? I can’t just write that this happened then this happened then this happened to boring infinitum. I’ll let my journal grow just like the mind does, just like a tree or a beast does, just like life does. Why should a book tell a tale in a dull straight line?

Words should wander and meander. They should fly like owls and flicker like bats and slip like cats. They should murmur and scream and dance and sing.

Sometimes there should be no words at all.

Just silence.

Just clean white space.

Some pages will be like a sky with a single bird in it. some will be like a sky with a swirling swarm of starlings in it. My sentences will be a clutch, a collection, a pattern, a swarm, a shoal, a mosaic. They will be a circus, a menagerie, a tree, a nest. Because my mind is not in order. My mind is not straight lines. My mind is a clutter and a mess. It is my mind, but it is also very like other minds. And like all minds, like every mind that there has ever been and every mind that there will ever be, it is a place of wonder. (11-12, though technically 3-4)

I could stop here, couldn’t I. But I won’t.

I had hopes with the first entry title page: Moonlight, Wonder, Flies & Nonsense. I found poetry upon the first page of written words, and I quickly found love within a short succession of pages; 4 and 5 and 6 pages in, pages 12-14. “I was told by my teacher Mrs. Scullery that I should not write anything until I had planned what I would write. What nonsense! […] I did want to be what they called a good girl, so I did try.” There are people who say they want to be a Writer, and there are people who say that they are. And I’m not mistaking Published Author for Writer and neither should you. My Name is Mina is for Writers, for Artists, Anyone, and for Birdwatchers.

I think people will want to give this book to youth they find “special.” And it is true that Mina is gifted and unusual (I think mostly due to her courageousness). You get that her mother is a profound influence, a mentor and guide; she herself is a Creative thinker. If for no other reason buy this for the sake of its portrayal of a loving, truly nurturing mother. “Raise your child in the way they should go,” comes to mind. Anyway, I think people should want to give this book to any young person. It is true that many people like Mina feel alone in their wondering and meandering and musing about themselves and the world; but the book does not impart a sense of “specialness” upon Mina outside of realizing a very rich character. It would assume every young person has (at the very most) an inner life, a distinction, and a loneliness. My evidence?

Now, I’m not going to say the book assumes absolute familiarity, Mina’s mind would be her own (11), but she will not be wholly unfamiliar on some intimate level (at least I desperately hope not). Better, Mina would challenge the reader to nurture their creativity, their wondering minds. If, like Mina, you’re not going to have it nurtured in a school setting or special programs, or unlike her, at home, be determined and a bit desperate and brave and find yourself an empty journal to meander your way through.

My Name is Mina has these fantastic “Extraordinary Activities” throughout. They are connected to her stories and contemplations where they are exampled, but they are meant to engage the reader, the creative. “Go to the loo. Flush your pee away. Consider where it will go to and what it will become” (124). “(Joyous Version) Write a page of words for joy. [or] (Sad Version) Write a page of words for sadness” (133). N did this one, pausing her reading to do so: “Write a poem that repeats a word and repeats a word and repeats a word and repeats a word until it almost loses its meaning. (It can be useful to choose a word that you don’t like, or that scares or disturbs you)” (97). N’s present essay project on present, future, past tenses: yep, the concrete poem Mina wrote on page 89 and following.

Mina is funny and serious and vulnerable and strong and restless and still and shy and friendly and outrageous and poignant and… I found her a beautiful character with which to become acquainted. Rather importantly, she is not charmingly quirky, or a cute puppy to indulge and smile over. She is deadly ridiculous.

If you’ve read David Almonds 1998 debut novel and awards-winning Skellig, you’ve met Mina. While you needn’t have read Skellig to enjoy My Name is Mina, My Name is Mina is cited as a prequel. You meet Mina from before Michael (in Skellig) moves onto her street. She sees him, occasionally observes, but there is a time before she finally introduces herself to him. Those familiar with Skellig will note references, people, and remember Mina. Those unfamiliar will not feel cheated, nor will they encounter any frustrating sense of inevitability like stories often written with another story in mind. You know those that are written to offer backstory. Mina isn’t a backstory. She is her own story.

When Mina writes that “the journal will grow just like the mind does” the book does take on this characteristic. She doesn’t date entries, but uses creative (summarative) titles. She’ll allude to an ending, and then move back and forth before she reaches it. “Afterwards, Mina tried to think of ways to tell the tale. Then she thought that maybe it’d be best to write it down, which is what she did” (58). She intentionally avoids stories until she feels ready to share them, still distancing herself from their discomfort; she’ll switch from 1st- to 3rd-person for similar reasons.  “Extraordinary Activity: (third-person version) Write a story about yourself as if you’re writing about somebody else. (first-person version) Write a story about somebody else as if you’re writing about yourself” (59). Some of the world about her is captured obliquely, what we learn of her mother’s is created thus. The book is a journal of Mina’s keeping after all, her preoccupations, her confessions, her stories, her own dramatic effects. She yells, she cries, she records poems and blank pages. Mina’s mind may be a mess, as she puts it, but the book is by no means jumbled into indecipherability. It doesn’t even feel unnatural. It doesn’t even exhaust the reader with cleverness–maybe because its less “clever” and more normal. Mina resists conforming, and I’m glad for it.

My Name is Mina culminates into an ending that isn’t remotely forced, or even inevitable for that matter. We have points we are alerted to look for, progressions we would see through, and then it slips into another story: Skellig. I was compelled to turn pages by my desire to spend time with Mina and the world she inhabits in her mind’s eye; to explore ideas of creation and death and life and belonging and cages and nonsense and story; to have fun and be brave and engage in healthy doses of nonsense and sorrow and long walks.

Thank you David Almond for your gift to the world, to my daughter, and to me. Thank you for introducing us to Mina.

———————————————-

recommendation…ages 10&up, human (or beast), lovers of humor, occasional irreverence, poetry you can understand, adventure, birds, nonsense, absolute sense… For those who’ve experienced a loss, a found, an inquisitive mind, an understanding adult, an equally strange friend, the principal’s office

Bart’s Bookshelf did a really excellent (and short) review, which I just found. Check it out.

———————————————–

My Name is Mina by David Almond

Delacorte Press, 2010

hardcover, 300 pages.

"review" · fiction · Lit · mystery · philosophy/criticism · recommend

the sense of an ending

Note: this post is quote heavy, as you can see. it can be (for the most part) read without them; i just chose not to restrain myself.

“This was another of our fears: that Life wouldn’t turn out to be like Literature. Look at our parents–were they the stuff of Literature? At best, they might aspire to the condition of onlookers and bystanders, part of a social backdrop against which real, true, important things could happen. Like what? The things Literature was all about: love, sex, morality, friendship, happiness, suffering, betrayal, adultery, good and evil, heroes and villains, guilt and innocence, ambition, power, justice, revolution, war, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, the individual against society, success and failure, murder, suicide, death, God. […] Real literature was about psychological, emotional and social truth as demonstrated by the actions and reflections of its protagonists; the novel was about character developed over time.” (16)

What if that isn’t entirely true? Or what if it is; yet drawn in the most unexpected and subversive way? Julian Barnes upends many things in The Sense of an Ending. I feel like maybe he is giving Literature the finger and smirking while doing so, widening into a grin as he receives prestigious awards for doing it.

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
Alfred A. Knopf, 2011
hardcover, 163 pages

This intense new novel follows a middle-aged man as he contends with a past he has never much thought about—until his closest childhood friends return with a vengeance, one of them from the grave, another maddeningly present. Tony Webster thought he’d left all this behind as he built a life for himself, and by now his marriage and family and career have fallen into an amicable divorce and retirement. But he is then presented with a mysterious legacy that obliges him to reconsider a variety of things he thought he’d understood all along, and to revise his estimation of his own nature and place in the world.

A novel so compelling that it begs to be read in a single sitting, with stunning psychological and emotional depth and sophistication, The Sense of an Ending is a brilliant new chapter in Julian Barnes’s oeuvre. ~publisher’s comments.

Have you read a book you felt you should read? And not for a class, for a grade. We all have those. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes won the Man Booker prize this year. At 163 pages, I thought, “Why not?” I need to keep my literary self well nourished, don’t I? That must have been what I was thinking. Otherwise, I’m not sure what I was doing. The book was altogether a frustrating experience. And I hate that the more I think about it after, the more I admire the damn thing.

“We were book-hungry, sex-hungry, meritocratic, anarchistic. […] Yes, of course we were pretentious–what else is youth for?” (10-11)

The Sense of an Ending is about a middle-aged man revisiting his past and the beginning part, “1,” reads like a memoir.* Tony Webster has a story to tell, and one, you soon realize, with a particular focus, “Still, that’s all by the by. Annie was part of my story, but not of this story” (50). And as we continue in a shift to the present in 2 (the remainder of the book), it could be construed the story he was telling was to his then-wife Margaret. The shifting in an out of time and relationship and dialog is primary to the fabric of the novel. Barnes is flawless; his movement and what it illustrates is remarkably fluid.

“That’s one of the central problems of history, isn’t it, sir? The question of subjective versus objective interpretation, the fact that we need to know the history of the historian in order to understand the version that is being put in front of us.” (13)

In the present, Tony is visited by ghosts of the past, the very past he’d just been speaking about. The reader is led to confront the persons and memories in the present as Tony would, as one privy to the events as Tony knew them. Considering the intimacy of the portraiture, we temporarily forgive the  reliability of the narrator. But as evidence and conversation and age come to light, Tony and Reader revisit what was thought to be known. And little surprise that a shift in perspective is necessary, reliability interrogated. We were warned all along with the contemplations on time, how history is recorded, on memory, and accumulation. But we are never warned how it might come together.

The Sense of an Ending has one of the best last sentences I have ever read.

“I remember a period in late adolescence when my mind would make itself drunk with images of adventurousness. This is how it will be when I grow up. I shall go there, do this, discover that, love her, and then her and her and her. I shall live as people in novels live and have lived. […] However…who said that thing about  “the littleness of life that art exaggerates”? There was a moment in my late twenties when I admitted that my adventurousness had long since petered out. I would never do those things adolescence had dreamt about. Instead, I mowed my lawn, I took holidays, I had my life.” (102)

Tony Webster’s life shouldn’t make for good Literature. He is perhaps the most boring protagonist ever. He is painfully normal, from a young man who masturbates frequently to a middle-aged man who still depends on his ex-wife for emotional well-being. He admits to wanting more for himself in his youth, but finds his peaceable existence not unsatisfactory. He is tepid. The most passionate and mysterious time of Tony’s life comes into focus, and to what avail? No, Tony Webster’s life should not make for good Literature, but Julian Barnes makes him so. It is disgusting how well he does this. I even found Tony’s dealings with the Insurance company riveting. [and hate myself a little for it.]

“I’ve been turning over in my mind the question of nostalgia, and whether I suffer from it. I certainly don’t get soggy at the memory of some childhood knickknack; nor do I want to deceive myself sentimentally about something that wasn’t even true at the time–love of the old school, and so on. But if nostalgia means the powerful recollection of strong emotions–and a regret that such feelings are no longer present in our lives–then I plead guilty. I’m nostalgic for my early time with Margaret, for Susie’s birth and first years, for that road trip with Annie. And if we’re talking about strong feelings that will never come again, I suppose it’s possible to be nostalgic about remembered pain as well as remembered pleasure. And that opens up the field, doesn’t it? It also leads straight to the matter of Miss Veronica Ford.” (89)

“You just don’t get…You never did, and you never will.” Veronica repeatedly tells Tony over and over (past and present). I wanted to punch her in the face. Why? because I didn’t get it either. And I was worried I never would. And I’ve yet to, by the way. Veronica is an elusive memory, an elusive relationship, and never easily deciphered. She is a painful figure of the past, who, in the present, continues in much the same vein.

“There were some women who aren’t at all mysterious, but are only made so by men’s inability to understand them” (86). Veronica illustrates this beautifully. Tony doesn’t understand Veronica, his first serious relationship. However, his ex-wife Margaret feels she understands Veronica well enough, “She’s a fruitcake.” And this hard to dispute, actually. Even without Tony’s vague speculation that Veronica was “damaged” (46). And we come to use Margaret the same way Tony does, as the one who knows Tony well enough to make good objective assessments of the situation at hand. He tells her something, she runs it through a filter based in experience and returns with good advice. Not that he is obligated to take it.

“How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but–mainly–to ourselves.” (104)

The visit of his past intrigues Tony enough to pursue a sense of closure, to reconcile memory with actual event, and to finally make sense of an otherwise senseless act. The Reader who hasn’t thrown the book aside pursues the same ending—only to find a sense of it. However, the mystery is not as compelling as the discussion on time, history, memory, responsibility, and accumulation.

Like the very first page, which read’s like a scavenger hunt’s list, the novel returns us to impressions, to marked images, at the end. In the “search for for possible hidden complexities” (5) in all we had come to study and learn, we are left (if not returned) to a feeling that is unpretentiously ascribed to and by the novel. The ending might not be the tidy one you want, but what you will get is a perfect one.

If you’ve a few hours an afternoon, you may want to give The Sense of an Ending a go; especially you Writers, and readers of Literature, and anyone over age 55 who’ve had a few good experiences with Literature. I didn’t read the novel in a single sitting, though I think, since it is possible, it is the best course: The Sense of an Ending is an incredibly well-crafted piece and the elements move in a conversation best held close in mind from beginning to end.

*************************

Notes: I know this was a quote-heavy post. but for all the frustrations with unlikable characters and the occasional difficulty sussing interactions, the contemplations were interesting, if not endearing.

I survived. “He survived to tell the tale”–that’s what people say, don’t they? History isn’t the lies of the victors […] I know that now. It’s more the memories of the survivors, most of whom are neither victorious nor defeated.”(61)

“It strikes me that this may be one of the differences between youth and age: when we are young, we invent different futures for ourselves; when we are old, we invent different pasts for others.” (88)

What had Old Joe Hunt answered when I knowingly claimed that history was the lies of the victors? “As long as you remember that it is also the self-delusions of the defeated.” Do we remember that enough when it comes to our private lives? (133)

one of my favorite:

“When people say, “She’s a good-looking woman,” they usually mean, “She used to be a good-looking woman.” But when I say that about Margaret, I mean it. She thinks–she knows–that she’s changed, and she has; though less to me than to anybody else. Naturally, I can’t speak for the restaurant manager. But I’d put it like this: she sees only what’s gone, I see only what’s stayed the same. her hair is no longer halfway down her back or pulled up in a French pleat; nowadays it is cut close to her skull and the grey is allowed to show. Those peasanty frocks she used to wear have given way to cardigans and well-cut trousers. Some of the freckles I once loved are now closer to liver spots. But it’s still the eyes we look at, isn’t it? That’s where we found the other person, and find them still. The same eyes that were in the same head when we first met, slept together, married, honeymooned, joint-mortgaged, shopped, cooked and holidayed, loved one another and had a child together. And were the same when we separated.
But it’s not just the eyes. The bone structure stays the same, as do the instinctive gestures, the many ways of being herself. And her way, even after all this time and distance, of being with me.” (81)

* I dislike memoirs and was annoyed to be reading about someone with whom I had zero vested interest. I mean, that is why we read memoirs, right? out of curiosity of a particular person who had an interesting life? Barnes must be gleeful having won an award with Tony Webster.

"review" · fiction · Lit · recommend · sci-fi/fantasy · young adult lit

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Quirk Books, 2011. hardcover, 352 pages.

It is easy for a young boy to believe the tales woven by a loving grandfather–of monsters, a magical home, and children with amazing powers. But as that boy matures his grandfather’s tales develop the taint of untruth and what once seemed so very real is now nothing more than fairy stories. So what if his grandfather had pictures of these children, pictures that in childhood were quite convincing? To the boy’s eye these photos now appear faked, doctored, impossible. And so the grandfather stopped telling the stories and a special bond was lost. Then one night tragedy struck and the now adolescent boy saw something–something that should not be real, could not be real. That one night will send the boy on a journey in which he discovers that truth is sometimes stranger, and scarier, than fiction. ~Carl V.

Carl V. over at Stainless Steel Droppings recommended this read—thank you friend—and really, I should just link this post to his and stop there. And so that is just what I am going to do—after the next paragraph and these atmospheric photographs from the book.

I really enjoyed Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. At first thoughts went to X-Men and Tim Burton’s 2003 film Big Fish, and then those reminiscences left. Riggs provides a highly imaginative historical science fiction fantasy drama of his own. His story shifts from disturbing to scary/grotesque to high adventure all while confidently treading a coming-of-age. The use of a photograph felt a bit reaching at times, but his clever use is undeniable. I was/am a little concerned about Miss Peregrine’s Young Adult designation and having to hunt it down on YA shelves where many adults do not tend to browse. It would be a shame for anyone 11* and older missed this read.

I am very excited to learn a second book is in the works.

*if you are edgy in the least about scary novels for your sensitive 11-13 year old, I figure you’ll want to screen this one first, and hopefully really enjoy it while you do.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a good idea for a Reader’s Imbibing Peril (RIP) read.

 

"review" · comics/graphic novels · fiction · Illustrator · juvenile lit · Lit · Picture book · recommend · short story · Tales · wondermous · young adult lit

lost & found

(from The Red Tree)

Lost & Found : 3 by Shaun Tan

Arthur A Levine Books, 2011.

A Shaun Tan book is a joy for ever. Its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness. [L & Keats] Yes, I’ve a grand love for Shaun Tan’s work. His words and his artwork really resonate with me. When the daughter and I were at the library for the sole purpose of checking out audio-books for our road trip this weekend, I did the habitual quick scan of the “New Releases” Shelf in Juvenile. It is right by check-out. And really, I can’t not pick up a Shaun Tan book, if only to hold it for a little while. I brought Lost & Found home.

Lost & Found is a collection of three stories: The Red Tree (2001), The Lost Thing (2000), The Rabbits (1998, words by John Marden).  As Shaun Tan writes in the “Author’s Notes:”

Each story could be said to be about the relationship between people and places, especially when that relationship is ruptured by physical displacement, an emotional disconnection, or an otherwise trouble sense of identity; a country invaded by aggressive strangers, a homeless creature, and a girl adrift in the world of her own dark emotions. They are each in their own way tales of loss and recovery, and a question about belonging in the absence of any direct language–where central characters hardly speak–as though some things are too strange, personal, or confronting for words.

Out of three stories, The Red Tree is the most difficult for me to find proper words. It feels rather personal to talk about this story, even though it was Tan who provided the words and images.

“I wanted to create something useful from what can seem to be a uselsess experience–an abject feeling of hopelessness–but more important, to simply acknowledge its reality, its strange distortions of persepctive and reason, and illuminate something that is often invisible. I intended my paintings to be honest reflections, without any didactic or moral message, and open to multiple interpretations by different readers.”

While there is an inkling of hopefulness in the symbol of the little red leaf throughout the story’s images, it is fairly swallowed up by the senses of vulnerability, of isolation. But at the end of the day, seemingly out of nowhere, hope is there and in full blossom.  It is no less impossible or improbable than anything else witnessed or felt on previous pages.

The Lost Thing is a lighter piece, more casual in approach, whimsical and fun. A young man has a story to tell about a “rather ordinary day by the beach.” He was out working on his bottle-cap collection when he “for no particular reason” looked up and saw “the thing.” This thing, not unfriendly, was evidently out of place and lost. No one was minding it, no one knew where it came from or to whom the thing belonged. After a long day of playing together (love the sand city they build), the young man takes the lost thing home.

But it can hardly stay. So using the card with suggested directions as to where to take the thing, the young man goes there. But an odd figure has better advice for the caring young man: a different place, an obscured place. And so the lost thing and the young man follow the squiggly arrow to a button, which opens a door to a fantastic place full of odd and lost things of varying degree of fancy. They said good-bye, the lost thing much more receptive to this destination versus the other, and that was it. “Well, that’s it. That’s the story. Not especially profound, I know, but I never said it was. And don’t ask me what the moral is.”

The young man gets back on his tram still thinking about the lost thing, until the thinking becomes occasional, until he stops noticing “the something out of the corner of my eye that doesn’t quite fit.” The tram, in a series of four subsequent illustrations, slowly joins the masses of trams in the dark. “Maybe I’ve just stopped noticing them. Too busy doing other stuff, I guess.” Yep, the melancholy ending to a casual outing, a whimsical find. He becomes the lost thing without it.

There are several lovely moments in this story, both sweet and haunting. One of my favorite is nearest the end, looking through the tram doors outward onto a street corner. The text below says, “You know, something with a weird, sad, lost sort of look.” On the street corner is an alien-looking creature at a mailbox. It has a small light looking into the opening. I faces it against the direction of a painted arrow on the street. You can see the thing is unusual and ignored through the multiple windows of the tram, but caught in a window frame with the thing is a man who looks to be waiting by a bus-stop pole, arm up, head down, looking at his watch. He, too, sort of looks sad and lost there in the corner of the window; a member of the story’s shift to who or what is as lost as the marvelous thing the young man finds.

Note: as with Tales from Outer Suburbia, when Tan makes the effort to illustrate a newspaper, take time to read the text surrounding the one one he has centered for you. He has a sharp sense of humor.

Just when you don’t think you can take anymore beautiful writing or gorgeous imagery, there is The Rabbits. This story has one of the best opening lines: “The Rabbits came many grandparents ago.”  The author of this piece, John Marsden, notes that he was influenced by a book called A Sorrow in Our Heart by Allan W. Eckert, a book about Tecumseh, a Native American warrior, and his people. He was drawn to think about the Native’s plight in North America, and again of the Aboriginal’s plight in his native Australia. “There [is] an obvious similarity between the humans and the animals, and it seemed to me that telling the story of rabbits–rather than people– would be a better way of illustrating the damage done by invaders and colonists.” It is told with the soft rhythms of a traditional oral tale–so lovely and so heart-breaking.

Marsden’s words met with Shaun Tan’s studies of postcolonial art and literature at university. “I was able to crystallize some of these interests around John’s enigmatic text, and build on further research into colonial history, which occasionally does read like science fiction.” Tan provides a visual context, an incredible setting that portrays a past, and a present. The science-fictional aspects create a visual relevancy–a sense of not-too-distant past and future-possibility. There is a delightfully strange mix of curving warm Tribal and angular cold Futurist. The images of doom equally excite, to disturbing effect–is it our training to respond to such imagery? There is also a bit of propaganda art? (my lack of art education showing. I really need to pair up on these reviews with the husband.)

While The Rabbits would be brilliant in any classroom history course, elementary through university, the story belongs to several other discourses as well. To keep quoting the eloquent Mr. Tan,

“The Rabbits is a story of universes collindg: one culture driven by powerful technology that transcends nature (much like our own), and another whose spirit is embedded in a an ancient ecology. The conflict between the two is, I think, a central concern of our age, one that exists far beyond the Australian landscape of deserts and billabongs that inspired my paintings and John’s words. Aside from historical issues of race or politics, The Rabbits is about a deep environmental crisis, a crisis of conscience, and a costly failure of communication. At the end the question of reconciliation is left open to the reader as it is in the real world: The future, as always, remains undecided.”

“The future, as always, remains undecided,” is an important thematic thread within the three stories of Lost & Found. For all the melancholy, the depressed, the isolated, for all the violence, for all that is lost, hope is found in the open ending, in the possibility, in that which “remains undecided.”

If you are unfamiliar with Shaun Tan’s work, remedy this. He images the most probable things in the most impossible ways, and can it look any more familiar? Shaun Tan is talented; his work, it’s beautiful.

"review" · fiction · Lit · recommend · Uncategorized · wondermous

Sorry by Gail Jones

a “review” that fast became notes because the three-to-four-paragraph-review -intention got out of hand, and I ceased caring that it had; although what follows is spoiler-free but for a demarcated section which could be rife with spoilery, but I wanted to put the remarks out there just the same, because, you know, I ceased caring. I suppose you could stop after the first break. and now this post is a whole  other big paragraph longer. [sigh.] you’re welcome, L.

Sorry by Gail Jones
Europa Editions, 2008.
(author copyright, 2007)
226 pages, tradepaper.

“I have thought about it all my life, this moment of eclipse. It is perhaps because departures are complex, not simple, that we are tempted to cast them reductively, as if they were episodes in a novel, neat and emblematic. There is a relish which people speak of their childhoods, but also a shrewd suppression of moments of inversion, when what is deducted begins to define the experience. In the deepest folds of memory, the heaviest sediments, paradoxically, are those produced by loss. The convolutions of what we are include unrecongnised wanderings, pilgrimages, perhaps, back to these disappeared spaces, these obscurely, intangibly attractive sites. I wanted a “last glimpse” memory so that I could seal the shack, and the death, and my life with Mary, into an immured and sequestered past. To guard against what? To guard against haunting.” (129)

Gail Jones’ Sorry begins with a child of 10, Perdita, caught in whispers and held hands with her sister friend Mary. Perdita’s father lying in a pool of blood on the floor. Perdita remembering. The page is turned and the narrator begins again and the story of Perdita’s childhood begins again with the introduction of her parents: who they are, how they meet, and how they come to be the way they are with one another. Perdita is then born, an unwanted intrusion into already private and individually driven non-lives.
Perdita’s Englishman father Nicholas is an anthropologist who has visions of grandeur which shift circumstantially. Coming into this career late, a veteran of the first World War, looking for something adventurous and meaningful and away, he finds a job in Australia and is posted at a rural cattle station. By this time he is married to Perdita’s mother (who is not all that young either), a woman as quickly and equally disappointed with her marital choice as her husband. Stella moves inwardly, isolated from familiarity and family (sisters with whom she was close). She clings, as she always has, to Shakespeare. She is prone to mental breaks and general madness and is completely self-absorbed.
Perdita is raised (in part) by the Aborigine people assigned the cattle station run by the Trevors, the Mrs Flora Trevor taking the lonely girl somewhat in hand. The Trevors’ youngest son, Billy, a deaf-mute, becomes one of Perdita’s only friends. Mary comes into the story a little later. Where the three will become one skin of a family : Perdita, Mary’s sister. Billy, Perdita’s brother. Their friendship means everything to Perdita, and the story.

The Reader begins to notice how the narrator is working her way around remembering the event with which the novel begins. She sets up the characters and the circumstances in as linear a fashion as the setting down of memory can be, sometimes nervously darting around a particular age–10–and moving forward. The narrator admits to flights of fancy, of concrete imaginings to events to which she couldn’t possibly be present, and with some melodrama, but I never felt a necessity to question her reliability on the whole. She is an adult, looking back. She is thoughtful in her expressions, particular in story, working her way around and toward an important revelation.
Perdita doesn’t mean to forget. The Listener of her Story understands that what happened must have been horrible. There are bright and beautiful moments of Perdita’s childhood to bask in, but much of her life was lonely, abusive, scary, and in need of some form of restitution.

**********

After “the event” Perdita finds herself with a debilitating stutter. “I was filled with wild loneliness, guilt and grief. I thought i would die for all that remained unexpressed” (114).
Sorry in form evidences the complicated nature of relaying that which the story teller would express; that which the narrator would reveal. She could say, in a straightforward manner, quite eloquently, what “the event” meant; perhaps diagram out its complex layers, but it would hardly have been as effective, as compelling. Nicholas works at finding a way to express his desires for grandeur, for superiority, for purpose. Stella’s is the more fascinating form, using her recitations of Shakespeare to reveal her innermost thoughts, or just the feeling of the moment. Incapable of finding her own words, she has assimilated Shakespeare’s as her own, to be used at will, and often maniacally.

Perdita “knew that Stella’s madness had method in it. She almost pitied her expertise with such descriptive resources. Stella doomed, she realised, to emotional aggrandisement and the lunatic exaggeration of the otherwise everyday. Her redescription of life in Shakespearean terms meant that she was always strung in a poignant register; she was always unbearably, ponderously, poetic.” (124-5).

Billy was locked inside himself, deaf and mute, and yet held such gravity about him, in his eyes, in the fractious fluttering of his hands, in gentle and easy affection with Perdita. The novel takes a lovely and hopeful turn with Billy–I can provide that much of a spoiler, can’t I? Billy is the silenced witness to Perdita’s childhood. He is older than Perdita and Mary, seen dumb by the whitefella culture, but not underestimated by the girls, or even the Aborigine. He sees everything, and finds some forms of expression, but is held fast by a lack of resource.
An inability to communicate is crippling, and often destructive, in Sorry. And Perdita finds herself pulled into the mad and melancholy world–of her mother’s.

“Aloof as she was, caught in her own infirmity, Stella’s words still carried a sensuous violence. She had performed virtual murders as other women did gossip, and she had been seduced not by the comedies, but by the horror of the tragedies; not by love sonnets, mellifluous and sweet, but by those that dealt with the morbid erosions of time. Unmaking obsessed her, and the making of nonentity.” (202)

Perdita feared to become her mother. Feared to become unmade. Feared to be unmade by her mother. Her stutter caused her to withdraw and become more silent, to become invisible in the world around her.
It is a painful part of the story of Perdita’s childhood where Perdita would find moments where she felt love and affection for a mother who less frequently found moments in which she was affectionate with her daughter. The feelings were in some way a reassurance, because she should have some love for her mother, shouldn’t she? But the blood stain could only reach so far before dilution and dissolution; but how far?
As Stella had found true familial love with her sisters, so too does Perdita find it with her sister Mary, the Aboriginal girl who comes to help care for Perdita while Stella is hospitalized. Their connection is swift and deeply held. It is important to understand how deeply held Perdita and Mary’s sisterhood is. It is important to understand the people from which Mary was wrought, the Aborigine. The native cultural traditions are portrayed in stark contrast to the colonizing forces. They are intelligent, graceful, hospitable, wise, merciful.
What Sorry shares about the Aboriginal culture is relevant to the story, even as it is informative. No thing about Sorry feels inconsequential. The frequent and effortless dispensing of large words is not to propel the novel into high flying literary circles or to showcase the author’s lexical intellect. The narrator is intent on the most precise image, the most illustrative word to carry the complex weight of her meaning. Stella would apply the right quote from a Shakespearean story in the right moment. The setting would enhance and project the right amount of gravity. The novel’s title deceptively simple–in light of ignorance–is incredibly complex, heavily-weighted in meaning and context.

In considering the title, it is remarkable how infrequently the word itself appears in the novel. Nicholas’ sense of entitlement would never consider the word. Stella is too self-absorbed and in needing of the word herself to use it with any sincerity; is there a Shakespearean form to suit the occasion? Perdita comes to learn what “sorry” means to the native culture in a peripheral sense; she doesn’t register in childhood what she would come to register in adulthood.

“That was the point, Perdita would realise much later, at which, in humility, she should have said “sorry.” She should have imagined what kind of imprisonment this was, to be closed against the rustle of leaves and the feel of wind and of rain, to be taken from her place, her own place, where her mother had died, to be sealed in the forgetfulness of someone else’s crime. Perdita should have been otherwise. She should have said “sorry.” (216)

The revelation that Perdita comes to at the end of Chapter 22 is incredibly poignant and heart-wrenching. It is a perfect ending to the story. But there is Chapter 23. I was surprised to find that it was there.

++please skip to the next asterisk if you feel the need.++

Chapter 23 begins:

“What remains is broken as my speech once was. But I see now what my tongue-tied misery could not: the shape that affections make, the patterns that love upholds in the face of any shattering. It is not sentimentality that drives me to claim this, but the need–more explicitly self-serving, perhaps–to imagine something venerable and illustrious beneath such waste.” (225).

The narrator is looking for something “venerable and illustrious” amidst her regret, but “beneath such waste.” You realized before chapter 22 that some form of restitution could have been made for Mary, and that “sorry” should have been expressed. Regret is too mild a word for the grieving Perdita undergoes on her sister’s behalf. And what disgust in “waste” would drive the writer of this story to use the word “imagine,” “the need to imagine.” And that that which is “venerable and illustrious” still lies “beneath such waste.”
The author doesn’t leave the story in the passivity of regret, but in the outrage of inaction. The resilient beauty found does not negate the existence of “waste” in an event, or childhood, or historical contents. Some things should not be forgotten or without proper acknowledgement.
Perdita was wounded in her forgetting, and only found healing once she remembered–however painful the recollection. And yet, still later, she would need to reseal the past; and to acknowledge that she was doing it. That she opened up her memory for a purpose, and to prevent the haunting, re-seal it once more. “I wanted a “last glimpse” memory so that I could seal the shack, and the death, and my life with Mary, into an immured and sequestered past. To guard against what? To guard against haunting.”
“Afraid of slumbery agitation, or ghostly visits” (226), Perdita drifts into the peaceful dream she inherited from her mother. She sees what she herself has never seen–snow. And she instinctively understands that what she hasn’t seen would blanket, coat everything in white, and bring a sense of peace. “Everything was disappearing under the gradual snow. Calmed, I looked at the sky and saw only a blank. Soft curtains coming down, a whiteness, a peace.” (226)
The only peace Perdita could find is contrived, borrowed; the oblivion found in dreaming; in forgetting. And you wish it for her. At least for a little while. Until we needed her to remember. Because we need Perdita to remember, for all our sakes.

******

It is of interest to me how Sorry reads like a memoir, though somewhat self-consciously, and admittedly fictive; the narrative shifting in and out of remembering and remembered sequences, in and out of contemplations on the reliability of memory, the seeing/knowing child, the effects of fear and grief, on forgetting. I think that lovers of memoir and explorers into the ideas of memory and grief would enjoy Gail Jones’ novel.

“As he sipped his tea, gleefully misanthropic, Perdita and Mary exchanged frightened glances. He was like a shadow they lived under. He had become darkened and impersonal.” (66)

There is an incredible amount of violence perpetrated within the pages of Perdita’s childhood, and the forms vary in appearance and subtlety. Much of the content is angering, saddening, frightening, and ultimately depressing, and perhaps it is the author’s tactful withdrawals into contemplation or omniscient ability to provide a future that keeps the text from too crippling despondency.

The mystery of that day, the day in which the novel begins, really compels the Reader to continue on. The general avoidance to address that fateful day creates suspense. And once you know, once Perdita finally is able to remember…

Gail Jones’ way with language, her threaded images, metaphors, the extending whisps of established scenes, the emotion and intelligence in the craftsmanship of the form and story of Sorry is remarkable. The novel is placed in four parts, each with an epigraph, a quote from Shakespeare, not to be ignored. The four parts seem to function as good psychological breathers and to introduce a faint contemplative shift in memory/story; with the aforementioned quotes as tone-setting. And there is “A Note on “Sorry”” after the novel; which I read before. The “Note” is enlightening for those as ignorant as I am in regards to Australia-anything. My knowledge is hazily collected from a few films, novels, and travel narratives. Sorry is quite powerful on its own, but the “Note” creates a greater poignancy; and the characters as representations take on a greater clarity. Oh, the essays Sorry provokes. Oh, the Activism it incites…

*******************

fragments, notes:

“For those who do not read, for whom reading is not part of the texture of knowing, the gorgeous complication, the luxurious interiority, the thrilling extrapolation from black marks to alternative reals; for those who might not understand what it is to collaborate in making a world, or building a thought, or consolidating, line by line, the salvage of something long gone; for those bereft, that is, and booklessly broke, those word-deprived, craving, caught in dull time, it will seem odd that tow girls, with not much to do, spend a few hours of each day hidden in the valleys of pages. Proxy lives, new imaginings, precious understandings.” (78)

Readers will find pleasure in the narrators’ musing on Reading, and find interest in Mary’s belief that reading something someone else has read connects the two; which has Perdita then wondering about the relationship contracted with the author.

“Later Perdita would learn with fretful misery how useless was her knowledge. Her mother’s history and geography were wild surmise, her politics were eccentric to the point of crude error; even her Shakespeare was a nonsense, partial accomplishment, a clutter of stories and quotations, an ingenious but lamentably archaic vocabulary, the integument of exile, neurosis, migrant sadness. This maternal inheritance, more than anything, would serve to humiliate her.” (76-7)

Sorry was very informative for me. And I did read it with the hopes of learning. I know next to nothing of Australian History, and the effects of World War II, as they touched Perdita’s childhood, was interesting; the Australian internment camps for the Japanese, the death of the Dutch refugees, the evacuations. I really enjoyed the glimpses into the Aboriginal culture; the comparisons between the whitefellas and the blackfellas. I appreciated the glaring accusations of disinterest and intentional inaccuracy directed at the government/colonizers. If you’ve an interest in the colonialism/Imperialism, Sorry is very good; subtle enough in disbursement, but hardly apologetic in its criticism.

a note on the cover:  while I find the present cover attractive. I think the image of the house at night with the kerosene lamps lit as viewed upon return by Perdita would have made for a remarkable cover for this story; though perhaps too dark?

************

I should end as I should have begun, where I could have left off confidently: with the quote by The Guardian found on the cover of the edition read: “Jones’s writing is fluid and memorable…the story proves powerful and poignant.”