Every now and then there comes a book so compelling, so consuming, that it makes your lover jealous.
You share intimate details, ideas, laughter over a glass of fine wine. You may change your thoughts, you may change the world while engaging in pillow talk under a soft amber glow as autumn crickets chirp out their own song of passion at the open window. It keeps you awake with desire until your eyelids are leaden, your body exhausted, the slumber heavy between you; falling asleep in a warm, mutual embrace.
Gently nudged among angled charcoal shadows to the plea for yet more attention, you readily acquiesce.
Awakening to dawns delicate lavender light, you pick up once again where you left off for just an hour, moments ago.
You find yourself skipping meals for your book, socially isolating. It’s an epic love affair between the two of you. You know it can’t last and that you’ll be indelibly changed by it, but you can’t help yourself. You find yourself reading ever slowly because, like life, it is so damn good that you want it to last forever. Yet the temptation to skip to the end, to learn the outcome, the moral, the true meaning of it is very near irresistible. You decide, once again to wait it out, read every word, every paragraph, every chapter. And, like life, in each one lies the magic.
A book such as this is one that I read just this week entitled, “Washington Black” by Esi Edugyan. It’s a story of slavery and oppression, a young boy, a slave named “George Washington Black” (Wash). He lives on a cane plantation, on the island of Barbados, in the West Indies in the early 1800’s.
It’s the story of his savage masters brother, his savior, Christopher Wilde (Titch). Titch chooses him to be his assistant with his engineering and aero studies and design.
The story unfolds into a journey, an adventure across continents; a study of human oppression and our ability to inflict unspeakable cruelty upon one another in the name of nothing more than self-righteousness. It brings us along with “Wash” on his search for meaning and Titch’s search for purpose. We meet many a supporting character, all of deep value to the stories eventuality.
This eloquently written, scintillating book of words, paragraphs and chapters is one that held me captive with every exquisite turn of phrase. It frequently caused me to gasp, stop, breath deeply, read that again and try to integrate it into my very being.
I now, once again, into my mirror, call into question my own roots or the possibility of traces of racism as a white American female born and bred in the northeast. I examine what action I may have taken on behalf of those more oppressed, attempt to rid myself of stalling guilt, and ask, “What action will I pursue in the future?”
I do believe that this book indeed has the potential to become a contemporary classic.
It’s a book you may enjoy, perhaps not. Good writing, for all of its literary critical and educational praise is, in the end, subjective.
“Washington Black” is shortlisted for the Man Booker Award for 2018.
Written as a “book report” for Creative Writing Class.