Friday, July 25, 2008

The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu

My 4-sentence review

This novel started out a bit rocky: I was concerned the author wasn't being consistent with facts, and I thought descriptions were uneven or thin. Two things allow me to forgive this rockiness to an extent: 1) it's his first novel, and 2) the fragments come together, the slow pace evolves into a sweet story that, in fact, parallels the kind, tragic character of Sepha Stephanos, an Ethiopian refugee running a bodega in DC with little to no passion for life, a broken man, a man watching gentrification occur around him as an outsider, who lets things wash over him and convinces himself they don't impact him, and he can't impact them. This story is very current, and quiet, and gentle. I wouldn't heartily recommend it, but it is sweet, simple enough for any modern reader (16 and up maybe?) but slow enough to not please anyone looking for a fast delivery, and urban in a way you don't see as much, insofar as it's very much based in the city, the city as character, without being frenetic or fearful, without feeling the need to keep up with the pace, but just being in the moment as pieces of the past, of the terror inflicted on the character's family during the revolution (not entirely sure of the politics of all this...), of the desperation of professionals and the poor surround this man, not a hero but not a case to pity either.

1 comment:

Christopher said...

Um, you really shouldn't skirt the 4 sentence rule by having Faulknerian-length sentences. Just sayin'...