Saturday, 22 August 2015

An Untamed State, Roxane Gay - The Review

I was kept in a glass box inside a glass box inside a glass box. I could see everyone I loved and they could see me. They were happy. They smiled at me as they walked by my glass box inside a glass box inside a glass box. I tried to shatter the glass with my fists and only shattered my bones. I stripped myself naked, pressed my body to the glass. I forced those beyond the glass to bear witness.

An Untamed State is a story about how and why a completely
normal (if there is such a thing as normal) young mother and wife
goes crazy and how she then finds her way away from the wild.

The Concept
What if you knew the emotional mechanics of how a person goes
crazy? What if physical things bad enough to make a person lose her
sanity happened to a young woman and you could see these bad
things as they happened. What if you could hear her thoughts as she
lost her mind. Would you tell her story. But of course you wouldn't
be able to tell the story if you were still crazy, would you?

The Writing  
Roxane Gay writes this book the way a young woman with great
legs wears a miniskirt. Short and concise statements that tell you
enough to satisfy your eyes, while leaving enough unsaid, so that your 
imagination is kept equally well fed. Also, of course, the less she says,
the less likely it is that I'll catch the inconsistencies in her story.

I would say Brava, Brava!, but I am still un-recovered from the torture
of the brutality of some of those short statements and still unsure if
they needed to be so brutal.

The book is written from the first person point of view of Mirielle, with 
a few chapters thrown in from the third person POV of her husband 
Michael. My best explanation for it being that, there were neccessary 
parts of the story which were only later told our narrator. In which case, 
her retelling could be argued to be too clear and insightful for a retelling.

The Story
Mirielle Jameson nee Duval goes with her blan husband and still
breastfeeding baby to visit her parents who have returned to establish
themselves in Haiti after having made their fortune in the U.S of America.
Haiti has probably overtaken Colombia as the kidnapping capital of
the world at the time of this story so it comes as no surprise when she
is kidnapped in broad daylight in front of her father's mansion.

Sebastien Duval is stubborn and has an unshakable ( I can't quite
remember the much better word or phrase which was used) will. He
will not give in or negotiate with kidnappers.

Bad things happen to Miri. Very bad things. She goes crazy? Dada finally 
pays. She is released. She runs away to the U.S of A where everything 
is good. She can't un-go crazy, though. She doesn't want to 
un-go crazy, but she must un-go crazy. Or must she?

The Resolution
The book ends about three or four times. None of the endings were 
really satisfactory for me. The final end of the book which is in the middle 
of the story is awesome for it's mind-fuck value. The final ending of the 
story on the other hand is a hero confronts evil scenario which sounded 
very fake to me. But anything to get the tissues out, right?

The Verdict
I didn't believe the story. It felt like a dance, choreographed purposefully 
to upset me. But then I wouldn't believe anybody who tried to convince me 
with words that the earth goes round the sun and not the other way round 

If you can believe the earth goes round the sun, I suppose you could believe 
this story as well. 

So if you can believe that the earth goes round the sun and you can enjoy 
beautiful writing and you don't mind being tortured by words, then I suppose 
you must read this book.

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