Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Non-list book 2: Nikolski

I have realized I don't need to be in a rush to finish my list books, so I have started to read other books simultaneously. I am about a quarter through the Ambassadors and will do a review soon. For now please enjoy my review of Nikolski by Nikolas Dickner translated from the French by Lazer Lederhendler. Its a Canadian book!

ahhh, what to say about this book?! It will always be a book for me that is tied very much with a particular space and time. I read half of it while camping alone in the Summer of 2010 and the other half of it camping alone in 2011. This book read very while holed up in tent out in nature. It added to the Magic Realism aspects of the book. This is a genre that I have only recently discovered but apparently encompasses the majority of my favorite novels. Here is the wikipedia definition: Magic realism or magical realism is an aesthetic style or genre of fiction [1] in which magical elements blend with the real world. The story explains these magical elements as real occurrences, presented in a straightforward manner that places the "real" and the "fantastic" in the same stream of thought.

Now, although magical things don't take place in this book, some fantastical things do. The book follows three youngsters on a quest for their own identities and focuses on their personal journies as they try to overcome some rather odd upbringings. Each of them have a strange set of personal belongings they carry with them including a Nikolski compass which only points to Nikolski, Alaska, a "three headed book" of three seperate pirate related stories sewn together and a torn out map of the caribbean. Although each of these young adults have never met, they are all connected in some way and eventually their worlds collide if only for a moment. It is also significant that it was a book about coming of age and overcoming difficult things in the past and becoming your own person. I gave up camping for years as a child because my father drank to much (especially while camping) and I stopped wanting to go. Camping for me now has become about reclaiming something I love and making it my own, which has been very freeing.

The young people, Noah, an unnamed Narrator, and Joyce each love life, they have crazy odd passions and try to enjoy life in unique ways. Some of these include a love of fish and all things fish related, a penchant for books, a interest in garbage as an anthropological fascination, an urban pirate trolling the garbage for modern secrets and a love of books old and new. I just loved that part of the book. There is nothing I love more than finding out interesting things that people are passionate about because I think that is the stuff that LIFE is made of. We are all different and people that embrace that are truly alive.

The book ends midstream just the 3 lives take an interesting turn. I was sad for the story to end because I really wanted to find out where they went. If you hate books that leave you hanging I would not recommend this title! I was left wanting more, but felt given that it was a book thats smacked of real life it was appropriate that it didn't leave you with a sense that you had all the answers...because really thats how life is.

There were a few quotes I loved including:

"As a rule, archaeologist don't take much interest in nomads. Teh more a population travels the fewer traces it leaves behind...Garbage reveals what everything else trieds to hide"

"And that is exactly the trouble with inexplicable events. You inevitably end up interpreting them in terms of predestination, or magic realism, or government plots."

If you are curious about the magical realism genre or you read this book and really like it I would highly recommend Grace By Anthony Doerr and A Trip to the Stars By Nicholas Christopher. They are in the same vein is this, where fantastical stuff occurs and they leave you with a sense that the world is a magical place without actual "magic" events occuring.

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