Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Origin of Species

a novel by Nino Ricci.

Quickie Recap: Alex is a grad student working on a thesis uniting literature and Darwin's theory of evolution while plodding ungracefully through the 80s in Montreal and regretting his romantic entanglements. Although he sees a psychoanalyst daily, it's a random sampling of his acquaintances that actually shed meaning on his life.

Quickie Review: Oh, the existential angst in this book is palpable. I felt a bit like a voyeur reading it because Alex is holding on to so many secrets and insecurities that at times I felt like looking away and granting him some privacy. At it's most basic, this book is about exploration - geographically, philosophically, personally. It's also about the growing pains that come along with it, the self-doubt and the fear that grips us when we know a big jump is required of us. The novel is structured in three parts and for a moment I worried that the second part was careening away and stopping the narrative, but a little faith in Ricci goes a long way. He knows what he's doing, and he's remarkable at making a cohesive story out of some pretty big concepts. This is a pretty dark book, which is not a criticism. In fact, it's nearly a compliment because I think it's hard to be so consistent without being overwhelming, but Ricci is forgiving and empathetic, and there's comfort in that. There's hope.
Quickie Recommendation: Well the Governor General isn't often wrong about these things... :)

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