Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat

I wanted to like this book. I am convinced that the more books published by women and by non-European men, the more possible it will be to see the world from multiple perspectives, and the easier it will be to discredit any claim that "we," of course, "know the world," where WE is some monolithic imaginary prejudice.

 I wanted to like this book.  But I didn't.

I couldn't interpret the characters at all. I did not understand why Sophie hated sex with her husband; I didn't understand that what was referred to as "testing" her virginity was experienced as, or intended as, or interpreted as sexual abuse which caused her horror of sexuality. I didn't know until more than halfway through the book that she supposedly was bulimic. I didn't even really understand the overall family dynamics. I hardly understood anything about Tante Atie when Sophie goes back to Haiti, nor about Louise and her pig. I only belatedly perceived there was supposed to be a lesbian relationship involved, or was there? I couldn't empathize with Sophie's fury at her mother's lover after her mother goes berserk, as it were.

In short, I didn't "get it." (I even misplaced the book for awhile—a subconscious passive-aggressive attempt to avoid finishing it?)

This is my first Danticat. I hope if I read another, I will better understand it. I kept thinking of Junot Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and wishing I were reading it again instead of this one.

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