Continuation on The Dew Breaker
I reread this book a second time, sort of. I kinda breezed through it and I changed my mind about some things, and at other times, I noticed certain elements that I hadn't seen before.
For example, even though I liked the book as a collection of short stories and as a whole novel, I didn't find the writing impressive. I thought the writing was somewhat elementary and there wasn't any elegance to it, with the exception of a few lines here and there (I'm not sure if this is what I'm trying to say). (is elegant writing necessary?) The second time I went through it, I got the impression that each succeeding story was written in a better language, but I have no evidence of that to support it.
One thing that I think should be pointed out is Danticat's use of a number of scenarios. Although not all of the stories were written in the first person, and I like the alternation of point of views, we are given a different protagonist every time, someone who is in a different or similar situation and has a background that makes their refugee story different from the next. From these, I could imagine the stories of those victims that were not included, because in a way, even if some of the characters were not tortured by this specific dew breaker, it does say something about him in the way that he committed acts of atrocity just as any other torturer did, and like he, other tortures too were able to escape and erase their past, at least partially.
Another advantage from different points of view, for example was with the first story. I like how with the first story, Ka makes a few judgements about her parents. When we read The Book of Miracles, then your opinion of Anna, Ka's mother, changes, and so on with other characters, like Eric (from Seven, who is also the nurse's exboyfriend from The Water Child).
I think Danticat managed to write something that is subtle in reflecting an accurate Haitian experience and culture. The line on pg. 71, "Whenever she went by a cemetary...she imagined him there...his tiny wet body bent over the tombstonese, his ash-colored eyes surveying the letters, trying to find his name," alludes to the religious practice of Voudoun, in their beliefs in spirits roaming the earth.
Addressing Char's opinion that the stories didn't quite connect, I think that I can see that. I thought the same thing too. I expected all the stories to somehow connect with the dew breaker, (I don't remember if he had a name). I think the more obvious connection is that the other characters, like the three men, lived in the house with the couple. The nurse is one of the men's exgirlfriend. The seamstress is haunted by memories of the torturer (and I don't think that she ever really lived near him, maybe once). I can't find the connection between the funeral singer and the torturer's life. I think I'd have to reread that story.
The Dew Breaker Discussion
Good morning, BookBlog,
I'm a little late here. I had some complications in the wee hours of the night/morning. I'd been in the emergency room since 1:30 a.m. and finally left around 6 a.m. Nothing serious, just founded worries. The doctor sent me home with Naproxin. Wow, I spent 5.5 hours in an uncomfortable emergency floor to go home with Naproxin for chest pains. I really need to catch up on sleep, but I've got classes in a couple of hours.
ANYWAY, let's talk about The Dew Breaker:
I stumbled upon this book during the summer. I was taking a creative writing workshop (I'm not a creative writing major) and one of the guys in my class who is a creative writing major mentioned this novel after we were done workshopping someone's piece for the day. He said the story had reminded him of a novel he read that was comprised of many short stories that could be read separately or as an entire novel, but that it was about a man who tortured people during the Haitian conflict (with Papa Doc?) and we get to know this man through the different short stories for they give a different perspective each.
So as I started reading The Dew Breaker, I kept thinking, "Okay, short stories, each a different one, but they don't really talk about the man..." So I realized that these stories were not so direct in referring to the torturer. I think I expected to read something that was written in a given account sort of way, perhaps more journalistic. But I thought it was great how each story linked to another in such a subtle way.
What did you think of the short stories and the substance within each? Some stories were more captivating than others, like The Bridal Seamstress. Did you have a favorite?
I've really not much time right now, so I'll go into a short discussion of the book for now and I'll pick up from it later. The Book of the Dead opens up with "My father is gone." My first impression was that her father had died. When the policeman shows up a few lines down, then I think that she has killed her father. The neat thing about this line is that it's a foreshadow for the symbolic loss of her father later in the story. Ka, the narrator keeps emphasizing at the beginning of the story how she has nothing in common with her parents, yet we see that this isn't necessarily true. On pages 13 and 18, she says that she's got a nervous tick and a way of talking or not talking during difficult situations that she inherited from both her parents. Is it that she doesn't want to have anything in common with her parents even though she mentions through out the novel that she wishes she did? I don't know why, but I got the feeling that she liked being different from them, even if she says other wise.
One of the things that bothered me of this story is how she didn't tell Gabrielle Fontaneau the truth from the beginning. Why did she have to go to lunch with Garielle's family and put herself through an embarrassing situation? Oh, and she seemed so passive. It was so annoying!
I'm not even going to proof read this because I really have to go. We'll continue.
My father is gone. I’m slouched in a cast-aluminum chair across from two men, one the manager of the hotel where we’re staying and the other a policeman. They’re both waiting for me to explain what’s become of him, my father.
—The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat