by Belinda Aycrigg
Two points about this novel to begin with –
One – it’s 473 pages. A book this long has to be very good to hold a reader’s attention.
Two – look at the cover design and the image of a woman clasping a child and with multiple arms, each holding an object, most of them weapons. If it means anything to you you’ll be better equipped to appreciate some of the images and ideas ahead. If not, that’s okay too.
Imagine, as an adult, suddenly finding yourself stripped of memory, having to relearn all by which you define yourself – words, relationships. “You’re like a toddler” – and those who you’re told are your husband, and your small children set out to teach you again.
Even better, perhaps, imagine you’re an alien, instantly transported to Earth, having to learn from the beginning about this new place. Well, not fully, because while Amalia can’t name even everyday objects she does retain some abilities, such as reading and driving. Such anomalies are indicative of the confusion in her mind and also an indication that not all encountered in her story will follow a logical path.
Through Amalia’s experience following an episode of dissociative fugue, we see things pared to basics. Our world and society is examined without context and what is revealed will make us think. For me, this aspect, which occurs in the earlier part of the book, is the most interesting.
Following her journey as she tries to reconcile different lives is often heart-wrenching, frequently funny, and always entertaining.
I made a mistake in my approach to her story, however. I used my rational mind and tried to analyse and interpret in order to get it all to fit neatly, and so I could anticipate the direction it was moving. I think now it’s better to suspend such thought, relax, and go along for the ride with mind open.
There are lots of rides during the telling, literally – some quite extraordinary.
After all, the genre is magical realism. At the same time, there’s a strong theme of environmentalism maintained throughout. It’s a book that doesn’t let you settle into an established pattern – rather, it’s testing you all the way.
By the end of the 473 pages? It could be you’ll be satisfied, still wondering, or perhaps more confused than when you began. But you should have found the journey thought-provoking and entertaining.
Author: Belinda Aycrigg
Publisher: 99% Press