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Divisadero Hardcover – May 29, 2007
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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Disaster throws a boy, Coop, into the hard life of a rural family, a father with twin girls, in 70s California, a world that feels more like early Cormac McCarthy than Frisco's Haight-Ashbury. A kind of romance, a tenderness of dispossession, causes a terrible incident and their lives are split asunder. One sister becomes a librarian and tunnels into the life of a 19th C French writer's fragmented life, Coop becomes a small time pro gambler run foul of a syndicate, the other twin (perhaps) a pawn in their game of entrapment. What comes haphazardly together again reveals the damaged destinies of family, of the twin hearts, of history, chance, and the ties that blind.
Reading Ondaatje's rich prose is like sitting down to a gourmand's feast and slowly working through the pleasurable, excellently prepared courses. It's as if a `courtesan of words' is seducing and dazzling you with unpredictable, intriguing stories. Ondaajte's descriptions are nakedly beautiful scenes of majestic texture and captivating imagery.
His poetic skills are woven into the narration with a subtle, yet radiant passion.
The novel at first appears to fashion fragments of lives as the story unfolds by flowing both forward and backward in time.
In time we realize the fluid connection, the critical moments that define and `circle' the unforgettable characters and create the dreamlike images and hear the elegant prose of his language.
The two distinct parts of the novel were difficult to align and didn't become fully realized until the very end.
Anna likens it to a villanelle...."this inclination of going back to events in our past, the way the villanelle's form refuses to move forward in linear development.."
Still, there were, for me, a few loose ends in the final pages that I would have enjoyed to have been tied up before closing this powerful, evocative tapestry...
The book is a singular literary feat. Ondaatje sweeps up fragments of lives that are threatened with destruction and makes them whole. He brings together two motherless infant girls and a four year old boy and melds them into a single family that only implodes years later in the face of adolescent passion and fatherly fury.
These three lives are the thread that runs throughout the book. An examination of the life and work of an (imaginary) writer of the 19th century becomes the focus of research for one of the three primary characters, and once again, Ondaatje is telling us that each of us live our lives as part of an extended family, our actions causing reactions in others in the family, but that essentially we are all alone in the life struggles and the death struggles that we all must endure.
Ondaatje is a joy to read - one of the handful of writers whose books I buy in hard cover as soon as they become available.