I read this one back in July for a bookstore’s book club because the author was going to visit for the discussion. I’d heard such great things about Dennis-Benn’s first novel, Here Comes the Sun, which I own but haven’t read, that I was excited to get stuck in this one.
The excitement and anticipation paid off. Not only did I love the story and could strongly relate to certain parts, I also loved Dennis-Benn’s writing and was easily swept up in the story. To top off the experience, I attended the book club discussion and was glad that I completed the novel in time for it because I could then understand the context of the questions asked as well as the responses given. Patsy is one of my best reading experiences of the year.
Contemporary literary fiction
Patsy is a young woman living in Jamaica. She is a single mom raising her daughter and caring for her God-fearing mother who refuses to get a job to help support their small family. Patsy works in accounting and is great with numbers, but she barely makes enough to cover the bills, buy food for her home, and send her daughter, Tru, to school.
It took me a whole year to read this book. It only has 303 pages, although my copy is missing pages 213-244, so it should have taken me less time to read it, but I struggled with this one.
On a cool evening in Kolkata, India, beneath a full moon, as the whirling rhythms of traveling musicians fill the night, college professor Alok encounters a mysterious stranger with a bizarre confession and an extraordinary story. Tantalized by the man’s unfinished tale, Alok will do anything to hear its completion. So Alok agrees, at the stranger’s behest, to transcribe a collection of battered notebooks, weathered parchments, and once-living skins.
From these documents spills the chronicle of a race of people at once more than human yet kin to beasts, ruled by instincts and desires blood-deep and ages-old. The tale features a rough wanderer in seventeenth-century Mughal India who finds himself irrevocably drawn to a defiant woman—and destined to be torn asunder by two clashing worlds. With every passing chapter of beauty and brutality, Alok’s interest in the stranger grows and evolves into something darker and more urgent. (Goodreads)
Okay, so this was one of those reading experiences that everyone has had at some point: when you’re reading some critically acclaimed book that everyone says is great and is a modern classic but you can’t see what’s so awesome about it and end up wondering if you’re missing something, like an entire page that possesses all the book’s awesomeness.
Yea… this one didn’t work for me.
Jesus’ Son, the first collection of stories by Denis Johnson, presents a unique, hallucinatory vision of contemporary American life unmatched in power and immediacy and marks a new level of achievement for this acclaimed writer. In their intensity of perception, their neon-lit evocation of a strange world brought uncomfortably close to our own, the stories in Jesus’ Son offer a disturbing yet eerily beautiful portrayal of American loneliness and hope. (Goodreads)
Note: I started writing this on Saturday, June 13. Got lazy and stopped, then procrastinated.
It’s a contemplative Saturday. A day spent in deep thoughts as I consider this crazy world I live in. Even the sky is moody with storm clouds rolling in, blocking the brilliant sun. I woke early this morning because all last night I felt like writing but was unable to because I was tired. I was excited to be up early before the noise and tension that would come as my day progressed and my family woke with a clash and bang that would reverberate through my thoughts preventing me from thinking. For now, they are quiet. They are asleep.
My writing morning began with my Weekend Reads meme, which was on diversity in young-adult novels. It threw me into a deeper pensive mood. I sometimes hopped over to Facebook, which is rife with posts on the Rachel Dolezal fiasco and it tore my mind in two. I find the entire thing hilarious and I’m shocked that this White woman successfully posed as a Black person for 31 years, even becoming president of a NAACP chapter, but I’m also upset with her because part of me thinks—feels—that she took my culture and history for puppetry. Maybe that wasn’t her intention. Maybe she loves the Black culture so much that she wished she was Black and made herself so. After all, she did advocate for Blacks. I am confused. I don’t know how to feel.
I guess that’s why I see this time—this mood—fitting for writing about Bilge Karasu’s novel A Long Day’s Evening. One of the protagonists is also upset and confused by the changes in his society.
Who can write a novel sans dialogue but so engaging it keeps you up at night? Who can weave a story so loopy that it spins you in dizzying circles? Who can create a place so mystic that you never doubt its reality? Who?
And the book—One Hundred Years of Solitude, the first book I’ve read by García Márquez. I am amazed by García Márquez’s talent and his clarity in his observation of humanity. This novel depicts the progress of civilization. It is one of the greatest novels I have ever read and it has left a deep impression on me. One Hundred Years of Solitude was my introduction to a profound artist and I am saddened to learn that he is gone.
May his soul now rest in peace.
“One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez
I have always heard mention of García Márquez and his books are always recommended to me. At first I shied away from them thinking, as I always do, that since he is a literary novelist and most of his books are considered classics, his prose would be cumbersome and his plots a drag. One would think my mind would stop thinking this by now. I was pleasantly surprised, when I finally buckled down to read One Hundred Years of Solitude, that I enjoyed it and could hardly bear to tear my eyes away from the book to do other things. The story would haunt me throughout the day while I worked. I constantly wondered how the story would progress, how would it end, would I get confused by the cast of characters all bearing similar names? It was torture to be away from the book for too long.
I plucked One Hundred Years of Solitude off my bookshelf after reading a passage in Wonderbook (by Jeff VanderMeer) that states One Hundred Years of Solitude is a story written without dialogue. I found that amazing and wanted to experience such a story. I wondered if such a novel would be dreadfully boring. After all, many times dialogue is used to speed the story along or simply to give the reader a break from stacks of paragraphs or to showcase other facets of the characters. Like in Robert Jordan‘s Wheel of Time series where the characters often interject certain aphorisms and similes in their conversations that reveal who they are and where they’re from. For example, Siuan Sanche, the Amyrlin Seat, is from Tear and is the daughter of a fisherman so she often uses aphorisms and similes that include boats, nets, and fish.