Thursday, December 29, 2011

We the Animals - Justin Torres

Jake found a recommendation for this book in one of his magazines - and since I'm always eager to encourage his reading, I picked it up for him, and then stole it back for myself.  I'm always (perhaps overly?) impressed by anyone who was a Stegner Fellow, so Torres started out ahead in my book from the start.  The book (which seems perhaps autobiographical?) is about three-brothers growing up with their Puerto Rican mother and white father in a chaotic abusive household.  It is a coming-of-age story of the youngest brother - and told in a stream-of-consciouness lyrical narrative, with each chapter its own vignette in the life of the boys' development.  The book is angry and uncomfortable, and while I'm not usually a fan of this type of disjointed piecemeal storytelling, I found this book quite powerful.  At times, it seems the author is trying too hard to create a new style, or to be a bit too literary in his presentation, but ultimately, this book worked for me.  Because I like stories, I did finish the book wanting to know more about each brother and wishing it had followed a more traditional narrative.  This is a book that stayed with me - and is short enough that I could go back and find the parts I wanted to re-read for clarity and emphasis.  Seemed like a bit of an experiment of a novel to me, and I look forward to reading more from this author.

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