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patfrench

Stop Making Sense

I read anything that's nailed down, or even just moving slowly. Cereal boxes, candy wrappers, all genres, etc., and I don't always have much time for arbitrary distinctions like literary fiction vs. genre fiction.

We the Animals

We the Animals - Justin Torres Pros:
--Beautiful writing. Just gorgeous.
--Each chapter is its own story; each can stand alone
--It's a very quick read

Cons:
--The standalone nature of the chapters precludes a cohesive, linear narrative. We're given snapshots only, leading to a somewhat disjointed story with an unclear timeline.
--The ending differs in tone, style, and content compared with the earlier chapters. It's harsh and comes out of nowhere.
--The lyrical language doesn't really reflect the early story well, in my opinion. There's a bit of a cognitive disconnect between the beauty of the language and the harshness of the boys' environment. It's only at the end, with its left turn into betrayal and violence, where the language matches up with the action. This felt more realistic to me than the earlier stories. (Of note: I have a real problem with stories that romanticize poverty, racism, dysfunctional families, abuse, etc., and I think the earlier stories are guilty of this at times.)

I can't really recommend this book, despite the beautiful language--except for the ending, it doesn't sound like an honest account of a difficult childhood. It works better as the story of an adult contemplating the lessons learned from his early life, but then the ending doesn't work. I can't reconcile the two scenarios.