Thursday, July 17, 2014

We Learned it at the Movies

"Though it’s set in a different country, English readers might be reminded of NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names....In language laced with Cuban Spanish and Russian-accented English, the story is informed by its political context but still manages to evoke that magical form of thinking that children in particular possess." 
Granma Nineteen and the Soviet's Secret takes the lead in The Globe and Mail's most recent small press books round-up

And in case you missed it, Benjamin Woodart's recent in-depth and very smart reading of the novel over at Numero Cinq is well worth checking out. Especially recommended for film buffs, it highlights the many ways in which Ondjaki slyly references and deconstructs the Hollywood adventure story throughout the book, and it even includes a specific count of the number of times the word "movies" appears in the novel. So crack out the popcorn, sit back, and enjoy Woodart's performance. Here's a taste:
"These children know how movies work, and apply this knowledge to create an adventure...By constantly having his characters live out and reference moments from their favorite films, Ondjaki’s narrative succeeds on two fronts: first, a steady verbal rhythm is created. The word “movie” appears 26 times throughout the thin volume, and with each mention, the reader is simultaneously transported back to the previous mentions (a flashback-within-a-flashback, if you will) while also propelled forward within the narrative. This creates a wonderful looping rhythm to both the piece and the language within. Secondly, these moments reinforce to the reader the fantasy that is the novel: Only in a film would a ragtag group of youngsters take on a military force with nothing but their wits and courage. And this is where Ondjaki’s flashback structure also helps cleverly underline the narrative as that of playful, rambunctious popcorn. Knowing the mausoleum will be ruined at the beginning of the story allows the reader to fully embrace the events that lead up to the explosion." 

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