Friday, May 5, 2006
Dancing in the dark
"A searing new novel that reimagines the remarkable life of Bert Williams, the first black entertainer in the United States to reach the highest levels of fame and fortune".. said the cover of this book.. and i picked it up..Dancing in the Dark by Caryl Phillips.
As i read the book, i realised that the theme of the book is there in the title.."dark".. in this book, you are made to see beyond the success of the first successful black entertainer in the US.. you are made to see beyond the applauses, the accolades, the awards, the fans.. you are made to see beyond it all..
all that you see is a man torn..torn apart by the guilt that he has let his parents down by becoming a comedian.. torn by the rejection of the black community that considers him someone who makes them all look like fools.. torn by the fact tht he cannot give his wife what she wants - love..
a man who makes the rest of the world forget their troubles and laugh heartily while watching him is plagued by the worst feelings.. none of the applauses, the awards, etc have brought him the peace of mind that he is looking for.. and that is how this novel proceed from beginning to end..
it is a very strong book.. fiilled with strong dark emotions.. makes you feel gloomy..but yet there's something about it that makes you go on reading. you know that there's just more gloom ahead.but there's some invisible force that keeps you moving till the end..
The style of writing doesnt make it any simpler.. if i thought any of the previous books i read had a "discontinuous" style of writing..i was obviously wrong..this book defines "discontinuity".. ech paragraph is different.. sometimes its in first person, sometimes its in third.. sometimes, its bert williams talking, sometimes its his partner walker..sometimes its his wife lottie and the rest of the times, its aida..the wife of walker.. you start reading each para without knowing where you are heading..after the second line you realise who's point of view you are seeing..and then you are forced to go back and start the para again and read it from that person's perspective.. and the paras are not too big too..every few minutes you are made to stop, think, re-read and process.. the flow of reading gets cut at the end of every para..
why read the book amidst so much confusion you might ask...read the book and then you'll know..