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Thread: The End - Salvatore Scibona

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    Registered User easy75's Avatar
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    The End - Salvatore Scibona

    A first offering from this author, which was shortlisted for the National Book Award a few years ago.

    The storyline (if it could be called that) is a swirling, omniscient peek into the lives of several people living in and around the Italian immigrant community of Elephant Park, Ohio in the 1950's. Their lives overlap and touch, sometimes minutely, sometimes with far reaching consequences.
    A baker, estranged from his wife and children, learns that his son has died in a Korean POW camp, and refuses to believe the news. He embarks on a journey to "The New Jersey" to find his family and reunite with them. He abruptly disappears from the narrative and is replaced by an aging widow, who has become secretly wealthy by performing abortions in the basement of her house. And then on to another, and another. A jeweler ruminates over events from his childhood, and a horrific crime he perpetrated. A young Italian boy, abandoned by his mother and left to live with his loving but obtuse father imagines escaping his life. Each life is connected in some way, some by familial relation, some by nothing more than chance.
    Scibona abandons structure and chronology in his careful revelations of these characters. He steps in and out of time and space. The effect for the reader is like dipping your hand into a quickly moving river current. Bits and pieces of things brush past and provide sensations, but nothing is constant except the current. This could conceivably make for a challenging read, but for Scibona's lyrical prose and the gentle force of his narrative, pushing you forward.
    He writes :
    "We may perceive ourselves to be careening aimlessly through space, when in fact distant events have thrown us into long elliptical, cometlike orbits, far from our origins, and eventually we will circle back on people whose lives preceded and gave rise to our own. We may recognize them immediately, or else we may meet a stranger for the first time and, while shaking his hand, feel vividly that an ancient obligation has been kept."
    Scibona made me want to see what comes of all this language, and these vividly imagined moments of the collective lives of these people. This is not a difficult book to read. In fact, I found it difficult to put down. What was difficult for me was trying to figure out what the author is trying to say with it all. I finished a few days ago and am still thinking about this book, puzzling over passages, and posing questions to myself that were posed to characters in the book. Maybe that was the intent of the author, and if so he has more than succeeded.
    I would strongly recommend this book to anyone looking for something thought provoking and a little bit different from the norm.
    Last edited by easy75; 02-08-2015 at 06:53 PM.

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