Edwidge Danticat has been a phenomenon for some time now though I doubt it’s because of her writing. Anyone who allows themselves a literary review of her work will find it often comes up short as does this, her latest effort. What mars her work is a strange juxtaposition of overly formal language with a crushingly sentimental storytellers eye. They are hard to merge, but somehow she does. In this novel we begin much to slowly and continue in this way. Tolstoi was a thousand pages long and i read him without qualm so don’t think mere length or slower pacing is the trouble. Instead, like many Caribean authors, there is a formalism, almost trying to out-Brit the British that makes much of their work sound old, dry and very much of the past. This can be valuable until you realize that, of course, the past already has its voices and yes some of them are of color so why not go to those for whom such rigid codes were normal and more poetically used. I found this book dreary and dull and lost in the morass of its horrifying actuality. One senses that if perhaps the events had never truly occured, Ms. Danticat might have ceased with the endless sigh before the fall of tears that one manages to feel with every line. No one wants to listen to a weepy grandmother unless they are masochists. Ms. Danitcats Krik?Krak! was by far her best book if only because the short story form didn’t allow here to meander in sentimentality and sadness. As a woman who reads much it bothers me that we women will play to soupy emotion like a person with a sprained ankle will favor their good leg. We should walk on both feet and though it is harder to be unswerving and harsh we should put our stories up to the light true literature demands. No more tearjerkers next time Ms. Danitcat, I beg you. You and we all are much, much better than that.
April 7, 2010 at 11:42 pm
I do not get it. The book plods. I have had the hardest time in finishing it. And this was a “notable”...