Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Melody

Title:  The Melody
Author:  Jim Crace
Publication Information:  Nan A. Talese. 2018. 240 pages.
ISBN:  0385543719 / 978-0385543712

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "It was not unusual for Alfred Busi - Mister Al - to wake up in the shallows of the night and overheard a cacophony of animals, hunting for food in his and his neighbors' metal rubbish bins or drinking water from the open drain, water that the residents had used to clean their teeth or wash their clothes and dishes."

Favorite Quote:  "Death does not tidy up or sweep as it departs. We all of us leave traces other than the ashes and the bones. "

I am not entirely sure what this book was about exactly; I do not understand it. Several threads of stories carry along, but for me, they don't come together, and they don't seem to individually conclude either. I am still looking for the connections and the main idea.

Alfred Busi is an old man, a widower still living in the villa he shared with his wife. He is a musician, but now performs only for small events in his local community. This description predicts a story of a curmudgeonly and older character, perhaps reflecting on life or finding that a new beginning can be found even now as many other current books have shown. The book does include thoughts of his wife, a determination to stay in his home, and flashbacks of childhood. However, I don't seem to know him any better at the end of the book than I do at the beginning. The book begins with sad and eccentric and ends there as well.

The first page of the book talks about Alfred's fear or and fascination by the things that go bump in the night. He watches creatures eat from the rubbish bins and keeps a record. Towards the beginning of the book, he is attacked in his own kitchen by one such creature. Is is a ghoul? Is it an animal? Is it a naked, feral child as Alfred thinks? A lot of time is spent on this attack and Alfred's interpretations. The book has flashbacks to other encounters in Alfred's childhood. Yet, who or what this creature is or its significance to the story is never completely resolved. A second attack on Alfred occurs later in the book, but it seems entirely unrelated to this story line.

The first few pages of the book also confirm Alfred's love for his house for it is a physical manifestation of his life. His home is one of the few remaining villas on this seaside promenade in this unnamed town. Others have sold to developers. "The offers from housing factors, architects and agents - none of whom had any desire to live in the villa and enjoy it, but only plans to knock it down and built - were delivered to the door in stiffly embossed enveloped, but most left unread." This is a town in the middle of a destruction or a revival depending on your perspective. From Alfred's perspective, his house is home, and it is a link to his wife. Age and other factors though impact his ability to stay. However, this conflict too is not fully addressed or resolved; it simmers along.

Finally, the last section of the book switches narrators. The switch is not explained, and neither is the connection between the new narrator and the story. It is a marked and abrupt switch and begs the questions who and why? It leaves me a little confused at the end. The only thing I am sure of is that I clearly missed something in this book.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment