Friday, January 01, 2016

Review: The Orphan Master's Son

The Orphan Master's Son The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book may never leave my mind, somewhere, forever. As with so much right now, I listened to it. I did not actually read it, but the three-actor performance was extraordinary. I still felt like I got a sound grasp of its literary landscape. Honestly, I am not sure if I would have had the patience to make it through in its written form, given my own shortcomings.

Still, in the audiobook format I was nearly overwhelmed at times by the author’s gift for alliteration and graphic, compelling metaphors, almost as a language of its own, some Nabakovian dialect of American English.

The comparison to other authors feels necessary. There are fluent Faulknerian temporal fumblings and shifting narrators. It would all be more Orwellian if not feeling more “true;” and the accuracy of language is as well starched as the best of Orwell’s essays. Burgess' Clockwork Orange formerly felt untouchable for its patented acceptance of ultraviolence; and once only Melville appeared as ambitious in his effective desire to create and own the global arc of the ultimate novel and its hero.

Despite the highfalutin literary correlations here, really, when the book is done you are not sure whether it was, in fact, just one good, long, long Esquire article. And that might be the author’s finest trick: keeping this work of extraordinary art contained within a thin and remarkably believable veil of perfect expository prose, so that you absolutely accept every word of this piece of exquisite fiction.

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