Saturday, July 28, 2012
Jesmyn Ward, SALVAGE THE BONES
A novel about a family surviving Katrina--although the storm doesn't appear until Chapter 11, and there's a part of me that feels that surviving their daily life is hard enough. Full of gritty, often gruesome detail (I had to skip over a couple of paragraphs at the part in which Skeetah, one of the boys, pits his dog China against another dog in a fight), this is a book about loss and salvaging what remains. The protagonist, a girl named Esch, is pregnant; the father is her brother Randall's best friend Manny who lives with another woman in a trailer; he won't look at her, but he still wants to screw her in the bathroom at Randall's basketball game. When a fight breaks out between Skeetah and Manny at the game, Randall loses his chance to go to basketball camp. When Katrina is on its way, Esch's father is trying to board up their house and loses part of his hand. When the floodwaters rise around the house, and they have to jump from the attic to a tree to get to safety, Skeetah loses his beloved dog. They lost their mother years ago, when she gave birth to Junior. This book won the National Book Award in 2011, and the writer is a professor of creative writing at U of Southern Alabama. Although the metaphors at times threaten to overpower Esch's strong, clear voice, it's a powerful novel--stirs feelings of pain and frustration and profound sadness.