05 May 2013

Best Books We Read in April (@BookRiot)

Great list here from all the BookRiot contributors.  My choice for the month was:


Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
There’s a great passage early on in Giovanni’s Room that’s incidental to the plot, but provides key insight into the main character, David.  He’s describing a car crash in which he was the drunk driver, but he tells his story completely in the passive voice:  “something weird happened to all my reactions”, “the car sprang suddenly out of my control”, and finally “a telephone pole, foam white, came crying at me out of the pitch darkness”.  Through this narrative alchemy, David manages to separate himself from the responsibility for his actions.  He didn’t so much cause the accident as the accident happened to him. As the story unfolds, you see David repeatedly rely on this self-preservation tactic.  He may feign self-loathing as he wreaks havoc on the lives of those around him, but whether he is steering friends into a tree or driving his lover toward tragedy, in his mind David is never truly at fault—he is merely the victim of circumstance.

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