Monday, April 14, 2008
The pleasure of the unexpected (Books - Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje)
As I expected, Michael Ondaatje did not neatly gift wrap the two stories in Divisadero and give me the meaning of their overlap like a present at the end. One world in 1970s California contains the story of two sisters who become estranged from each other, their father, and their surrogate brother, Coop. The other, set in turn of the century Southwestern France, concerns the life of the writer Lucien Segura. Anna, one of the two sisters, who leaves her family one shocking violent day and never returns, takes refuge in the writing of Segura. In the book these two worlds exist side by side without Ondaatje ruining the mysterious spell that the story of Segura cast. The origin of the stories for which Segura became most famous slowly unfold and through that we gain insight into how stories can strengthen, how they soothe, how they can help one to construct identity, how we can live in them and through them - but we don't get explanations. This created for me an experience filled with mystery and beauty. I also find as a reader of many books that even in very satisfying reads I frequently know what lurks around the next corner. Not with this one. It was not constructed for suspense per se but it was constantly unexpected.
The rest of my posts on Divisadero are here, here, here, and here.