I know, I know. All I do is read.
We the Animals, Justin Torres
The best word I can think of for this book is concentrated. At just 144 pages, it still packs a major punch of angst, drama, humor, horror, and love...you know, all the things that make up a family.
The blurb is short too, in keeping with the novel:
We The Animals, Justin Torres's sparse debut novel, is brimming with delicate stories of family, of growing up, of facing reality, and of delaying it. Narrated by the youngest son of a Puerto Rican father and white mother from Brooklyn raising their three young sons in upstate New York, the novel is comprised of vignettes detailing moments spent in the eye of the ferocious bubble of home. Torres paints a large picture through diminutive strokes, evoking envy for the couple’s passion and fear for just how easily that passion turns to rage. The brothers wrestle, fight, cry, and laugh as their family is torn and repaired over and over again. Torres’s prose is fierce, grabbing hold of the reader and allowing him inside the wrenching, whirlwind of a life lived intensely.
This is dark. The plot and even the feeling I got while reading it reminded me of The Glass Castle, another phenomenal book about the not-so-familial side of family. It's very episodic, like glass castle, and is written from the point of view of the youngest child, like glass castle. They are different books though, I checked. I really wish I could figure out what lead me to this novel, as it's a bit of a departure for me while still overlapping with literature I favor. I'm working on a lengthy post on where I find my next book...wish I had tracked it for this one.
The writing style is my very favorite: lyrical prose, that if read in the tempo and cantor of poetry, would pass the test. I get the idea that the author maybe wrote 500 pages and then ruthlessly edited and edited it down to what we're left with, a chiseled, concentrated story. Read it and tell me if I sound like a crazy person.
I also really liked the cover. It makes sense in a perfect way. I always wonder if cover art/graphics/text matters MORE in this day and age (we're so used to seeing fantastic and well done graphics that books need to be amazing to catch our eye whilst strolling Barnes & Noble) or LESS (if you're reading electronically, you may never even see it). Food for thought.