Sunday, August 01, 2010

Brother, I'm Dying - Edwidge Danticat, Dreams of Rivers And Seas - Tim Parks, Lunar Park - Bret Easton Ellis

My friend Erica let me borrow her copy of Lunar Park. I read it before Ellis recently ran his mouth about why there aren't more female directors. His theories (having something to with the male gaze) were full of crap. Anyway, while I HATED the book American Psycho (I threw it across the room when I was done with it. But I LOVED the movie, which was hilarious and featured an amazing performance by Christian Bale) I did enjoy Lunar Park. It's a weird book. The first part reads like an autobiography where Ellis expresses some regret for his past excesses and talks a great deal about his difficult relationship with his father. He uses real names from the publishing world and writes about how his life changed after Less Than Zero was published. Then all of a sudden, it becomes a thriller. Ellis swears his stepdaughter's doll is alive and is trying to kill them. No one believes him and thinks he's coked up again. I haven't read Glamorama or Ellis's new book but I think this is his best work since Less Than Zero.

I won this book in a contest on Milanese Marsala's blog. I've only read Tim Park's non-fiction in the past. Dreams Of Rivers And Seas is beautifully written but his characters were so damaged, I became frustrated with them. Albert, a well known and controversial anthropologist, has died. His son, John, flies to India from England for the funeral. John's mother, Helen, is a strange bird. I was very impatient with her. She's extremely cold to her son, as if he was an inconvenience. John, searching for an identity, finds India confusing. What were his parents doing there? Why did his dad die so suddenly? John is full of questions but may never find the answers.

A heartbreaking true story, this book by noted novelist Edwidge Danticat was hard to read. I don't want to give away the ending to those who didn't see the newspaper articles/press about the book. Danticat writes about her father and her uncle. Her parents moved to America leaving her and her brother to be raised in Haiti by her uncle until her parents could bring them to the States. The story moves between the present and the past. What happened to her uncle made the international press. Even though I knew about it, as I read about it in her book I became furious. That something like that could happen in my home country infuriated me. I have heard from non-Americans black and white that going through US Customs is not pleasant. Apparently it's so bad, it's one of the reasons Chicago lost the Olympic bid. I do understand why post 9/11 why we have more security. However, I find it a little frightening that the "Underwear Bomber" was able to get into the country (while on a watch list, with no luggage, a one-way ticket he paid for in cash, etc.) but a friend's British girlfriend is given the third degree while traveling to the States with her American boyfriend for the holidays.

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