Monday, October 17, 2011

We the BBS Staff love "We the Animals"

One of the things I love about our staff here at BBS is our eclectic taste in books. Some of us are poetry nerds, others love sci-fi and fantasy, some are hard-core literary fiction fans. We've even got readers of romance, zombie novels, and the occasional zombie romance novel. With so many varied readers on staff, I always pay attention when I discover that half the staff are reading same book. A few years back, that book was The Hunger Games. Last year, it was Room. Now, it seems like everyone around here is reading We the Animals, a new novel from Justin Torres.

I asked around for some comments on the book from our booksellers, and here's what they said:

Justin Torres writes in images, emotions, and fragments of childhood disguised as prose. His manner is effortless yet heavy. His scenes are equal parts lovely and painful. And his stories hold a truth that sinks into your stomach and buries itself there. We the Animals is a beautiful, heart-wrenching recollection of hopeless poverty and youthful exuberance that can only be described as brilliant.

We the Animals is a lyrical and captivating account of man's childhood, liberally seasoned with desperate nostalgia and universal appeal with a hint of urban tragedy. Torres delivers some of the most beautiful and heartfelt prose to grace a book cover in years. If you are looking for the next great American novella, this is it.

A thought-provoking portrayal of the dysfunctional family, We the Animals by Justin Torres will pull you in with the poetry of its language and hold you in a world that is as uncomfortable as it is beautiful. It's the kind of novel we all should read and has left me questioning my own understandings of love, support, and family.

The shock of Justin Torres' poetic novella about three young boys growing up in an impoverished family isn't the beatings, the abandonment, or the drunkenness, but the moments of tender love. It's the unbreakable bond between brothers that shines through the day-to-day horror of belonging to two people who became parents at fourteen. It's the stolen caress after the father's battering violence. It's the magnificent flow of Torres' language as he renders each painful scene in riveting detail. Finally, it's the sensitivity of a young boy living in home that has done everything to deaden tender feelings. This book is important as a testament of how love can endure in even the most impossible situations. Torres has captured the emotional heart of a wrung-out family in this jewel of a novella.

With deliberate style and delicate poetics, Torres invests a trio of young brothers with a worldliness steeling them against outside forces promising harm, yet leaving them ill-prepared against corruption from within. Sketching a complicated family trapped by heritage and class, Torres provides glimpses of the primal kind of love that binds them together and promises ultimate tragedy when it all falls apart.

Though it is marketed and sold as "fiction", Torres' story feels more like truth than the world outside the pages. In an observant and poetic voice, it is a telling of the classic story of three sons, narrated by the youngest. It's a book about brotherhood, coming of age, and the inevitable realization that our parents are people too. Lit by love and shadowed by pain, it is the true story of the human condition.


I think I know which book is next on my "to read" list...

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful use of language...evokes visceral emotion. Stunning, jarring... it hurts, but beautifully. Loved it beyond... So keep your eye on this emerging author. He'll likely be a force in literary circles.