I was a sensitive kid (I hated watching Road Runner and Trix commercials because of the unfairness of it all). I played with a pack of little boys, and I knew the worst thing that could happen to a person was for someone to see you cry. When friends were reading Bridge to Terabithia and reporting it as a sad, sad story, but very, very good, I ran away from it as hard as I could. We even played Terabithia in the woods together and I pretended not to mind not knowing the back story. Now I wish I hadn't waited 30 years to read this book. There's pain here, true, but also beauty and the hidden memory of what it was like to be 10 years old. I would recommend this book to anyone, even those who always wanted to give a cartoon rabbit a long-in-coming bowl of breakfast cereal.
Melanie loves her school. There is something very strange about the cement cells, the restraints, and the chemical baths, but she likes her lessons and she loves her teacher. She would do anything for her teacher--defy her own nature, battle her own kind, travel through a nightmare landscape. She would even, if it came to it, destroy the world.
The structure of this novel, six stories told by halves and linked to each other, is expertly carried out.
The first is a pacific travel journal set in the colonial Philippines which starts our journey of understanding what evils we as people perpetrate on each other. The second is a highly amusing account of a disinherited musician. The third is an excerpt from a disco-era murder/corporate espionage mystery. The fourth is an entertaining modern-time adventure of a man mistakenly committed to a nursing home. The fifth is set in a future of corporate hegemony and the questions raised by cloning. The sixth, which is the only story told in one complete piece, speaks of a far, far post-apocalyptic future which seems even more brutal than our warlike past.
The book ascends toward this story by halves and then descends, each occupant of the previous tale having viewed the first half of the story of the last and ending their story with the time and opportunity to finish viewing the rest of story that came before them. The themes of the book include slavery, racism, abuse, definitions of good and evil, timelessness, humanity, dignity, honor, and the connections between people. The characters are, for the most part, savvy and quick witted, inviting us to inhabit a strong narrative voice. I laughed out loud at the pithy dialog several times and was awed by masterful descriptions.
I highly recommend this book for the study of the craft of creative writing.
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