…where we can carry on 🎵.
Ah! The blogging goes in fits and starts but I have found redemption in books again. My original goal for the reading challenge was 12 books in the year. It’s near the end of April and I’ve read 10.
- Here Comes the Sun – Nicole Dennis-Benn
- The Book of Joan – Lidia Yuknavitch
- The Akata Duology: Akata Witch and Akata Warrior – Nnedi Okorafor
- The Binti Trilogy: Binti, Home, and The Night Masquerade – Nnedi Okorafor
- Pachinko – Min Jin Lee
- Prudence – David Treuer
- The Marvellous Equations of the Dread – Marcia Douglas
Prudence proved to be a bit of a headscratcher. I turned the last page and thought to the ether, What was all that about? Treuer, why did the white character get so much play in your book and why did you silence the title character, introduced to the reader as a corpse, until the very end and I knew, just knew there was something about these WWII novels, we never gel.
Clarity can come from unexpected places. As an anime fan and a feminist I support a site called…Anime Feminist. The staff run a podcast and its currently doing a Watchalong: a series in which staff members plus invited guests watch a legally available anime show, and share their critiques. The current show is Michiko & Hatchin, set in Brazil, and one of its prominent themes is the desire for whiteness and how that affects black/brown characters like Michiko vs Hatchin who passes for white.
Certain things about Prudence started to click. Frank, a gay white kid from Chicago, visits a mountain town every summer because his parents own a vacation property there. He forms his closest personal relationships with Felix, the property’s caretaker, and Billy, a Native American local who assists Felix on the property. They remain close over the years until a violent disruption in the woods creates an irreparable fracture which WW II enlistment and time widens.
Frank’s perspective anchors the first half and he is rarely absent from other characters’ inner thoughts. His mother overthinks everything, including his well-being; Billy is ardently in love with him; he is something of an adopted son for Felix who lost his own family to disease while he fought overseas in WW I.
His presence barely dims in his absence, fuelled by Prudence’s obsession with him in the second half. It’s an obsession that doesn’t make sense until near the end when she takes over the story. Yet it doesn’t quite make up for what came before. Frank, simply by being, with his awkward scrambling at performative masculinity, his naïve/oblivious privilege, his closeted desires, ultimately acts as a destructive force that wrecks many lives.
It was so frustrating to read! But the frustration served a purpose. The book’s substance increases as it lingers in my mind but I don’t want to reread it. (Sorry, Treuer.)
Prudence matched the “book written by an author who is Indigenous, Native American or First Nation” prompt for my reading challenge. Lit Hub led me to more native writers with Hawaiian Authors on the Island’s Literature. It’s good to be reading again.