Saturday, January 16, 2016

Dafuq did I just read?

I like magic realism. I like the fantasy and horror of our imaginations to seep into realistic fiction and make the world topsy-turvy. I like ambiguous books. That said, I don't know what the ass is going on in Crossing the Hudson.

Funnily enough I also like books with no likable characters and this book also falls into that category - Gustav and his parents are repugnant, obsessed, and bizarre; they have moments where you can connect to them as a reader (Gustav's frustration with Rosa is something that I can be particularly sympathetic to) but for a book that's ostensibly about examining relationships it remains incredibly difficult to form a relationship with these characters.

For the majority of the book everyone's a little monster and nothing makes much sense - which I suppose is true of the real world as well. That makes it upsetting that as the book reaches its climax puzzle pieces begin to fit together and the world is given a familiar (false) narrative path to follow.

Maybe it's all escapism, maybe it's the story of a man who hates himself and wants to narrate his way out of a life story he doesn't want to believe in, maybe it's offering an outlet of hope to people who feel trapped by their realities, maybe it's examining the world as a delusion. I can't fucking tell.

I didn't hate this book, it wasn't bad, and it was a lot of fun to read. But in places the characters were too repulsive, at the end the delusion was too convenient, and I was left feeling like the story was forced or false - like an intricate, beautiful door that opens to reveal crude scribbles on a brick wall. The book was reaching for a conclusion that it just couldn't articulate and, while it was a beautiful journey to get to the end of that journey, you finish and feel like you're more lost than you were when you started reading.

     - Alli

Jungk, Peter Stephan. Crossing the Hudson. Handsel Books. New York: New York. 2008. (2005).

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