Here is a post modern novel after my own heart.
In his latest novel Ron Currie, Jr sets out to tell the capital-T Truth about his life, career, and his tumultuous love affair with a woman no one could ever hold a candle to, Emma.
He has been in love with Emma since the moment he met her in eighth grade, after a short romance in their teens, Ron and Emma went their separate ways. Emma married another man while Ron tried desperately to escape Emma’s ghost by finding comfort in the arms of many other women.
Later in life their paths cross and they begin their romantic relationship again, even though Emma is married both of them say damn the consequences and proceed with a passionate affair that lasts a lengthy time.
Inevitably, Emma and her husband begin divorce proceedings and Emma more or less exiles Ron to a Caribbean island while she tries to ‘sort things out’ and find herself. In her absents, Ron begins writing a novel about Emma and eventually he ends up in a downward spiral. Between consuming large amounts of alcohol and young eager co-eds, Ron can’t shake his longing for Emma.
Suddenly one day she turns up on the island where they spend three weeks in uncomplicated bliss until he decides to tell her about his not so alone time on the island. When she discovers he has been sleeping with another woman, she is angry and leaves Ron on the island…..she realizes that he was just another mistake in a long string of mistakes that make up her life.
Unable to accept Emma’s choice, Ron drives his car off the pier one night after some pretty heavy drinking….he hopes the ocean will just carry him away and put him out of his misery……imagine his shock when he wakes up on the beach very much alive.
Everyone thinks Ron is dead and at the time, being dead sounds pretty good to Ron. So instead of going to the authorities he uses his fake death as a way to start over and begin again…..this time without Emma’s ghost haunting him. But he soon finds out that while he might be dead, his last unpublished novel about Emma isn’t.
It turns out dead men can tell lies.
Though this is not a memoir but rather a work of fiction it doesn’t mean that the feelings and thoughts are not real….that was one of the things Currie explicitly points out to readers and one of the reasons I loved the novel….just because something isn’t the “truth” doesn’t mean it isn’t real. The written word has power and with that power comes the need for ‘truth’, and this novel does a fantastic job highlighting the difficulties that the ‘truth’ faces in fiction.
I’ve taken a number of literary criticism and theory classes as part of my BA, and one of my fav genre to pick apart is post modern literature. This novel is begging to be deconstructed and analyzed. It’s hard for me to describe in normal terms how rich this novel is and why….it just simply is.
Post modern lit is all about fragmentation, paradox, and questionable narrators and in this novel I loved the unreliability of Ron the character. He was so flawed but yet so relatable. How could you not love a character who’s feelings were so raw and real….he laid his feelings out there, right or wrong in such a way that the reader couldn’t help but be sympathetic to him.
I think every girl secretly wishes a guy felt about them they way Ron felt about Emma….maybe guys do but they lack the talent or ability to express it in the way that Ron does. I found my heart melting when he was talking about Emma and how he felt about her. I fell in love with his character the same way that Charlotte did…..I fell in love with the way he loved the same way she did. Very powerful writing and wonderfully articulate.
Ironically, Emma and Ron were two people that should just NEVER be together under any circumstance…..co-dependent to the letter. They were selfish, manipulative, and self destructive….these are two characters that readers should never like or sympathize with but for some reason I found myself feeling sorry for them, more Ron than Emma but still I had to bear in mind that Ron is an unreliable narrator and I am sure if we read from Emma’s perspective we would feel differently about her.
But for the majority of the novel I simply felt like Emma was manipulating Ron and toying with him. I doubted that she ever loved him and often wondered if she was purposely trying to make him have a mental breakdown. I hated Emma for what she was doing to Ron…..she seemed like a royal bitch but at the same time I wondered what made her tick, I would like to know but it’s Ron’s story not Emma’s so in Ron’s story she is the ‘villain’ so to speak–we are meant to hate her.
My biggest complaint about the book was the lack of chapters. Now I am not sure if the lack of chapter was due to my copy being a galley or if it was meant to be that way. I have read other books that are written in a stream of consciousness narrative style—Mrs Dalloway being one of my favs– and I have a love hate relationship with the style.
It’s an extremely personal form of writing. In this book, it brought me closer to the narrator. I felt more connected to Ron in a very intimate way but at the same time I found it difficult to follow at times. Since there were no ‘proper stopping points’ in the narrative I was a little lost at the transitions between past and present events.
This is not just a novel about self discovery but rather the search for Singularity….essentially how to leave someone for their own good. Currie gives the reader a lot to consider and ponder about life, love, happiness, and the truth but I think it’s the search for Singularity that was the most arresting for me in the novel.
This idea of Singularity–the moment when computers wake up, become self aware, and gain consciousness–plays a high role in the novel, I’m not talking about computers literally taking over the world, this is more figurative….an abstract concept that sets the tone and message of the entire novel.
In the end, is Singularity possible? You must discover the answer on your own.
- E-copy, 352 pages
- Expected publication: February 7th 2013 by Viking Adult
- ISBN 0670025348 (ISBN13: 9780670025343)
- Review copy provided by: the publisher (via NetGalley), in exchange for an honest review
This book counts toward: NA
- Hosted by: NA
- Books for Challenge Completed: NA
Recommendation: 5 out of 5 (a post modern novel after my heart)
Genre: Contempo Lit, Post modern lit
You’ll never learn who she is from anything that comes out of her mouth. It’s the eyes.
No one could ever really have her. The woman is a fighter, has been her whole life, had to be and she does what finesse fighters do: jabs and feints, circles away from your power hand, makes you commit right then shifts to your left, never stands still, bounces about tirelessly on legs like steel coils, just wears you down. No one could have her.
They loved me for the way in which I loved, despite the fact that my love was not directed at them.
Don’t repackage your fear and try to sell is to me as indifference.