Wednesday, September 7, 2022

The Changeling, by Victor LaValle

 I picked LaValle's book for our family book club. After reading Children of Cain, I had "changeling" on my mind. When I saw the author of The Ballad of Black Tom (one of my best reads from 2021) wrote a book about a changeling, I just had to read it.

Spoilers hence:

Since early in our marriage, I think when we started having kids, my wife has mentioned the changeling. I think she first learned of changelings from the Charlotte Mary Mew poem of the same name. I read it years ago when she pointed it out to me, but about 60% through LaValle's book, I had to read it again. Was this the influence for Maurice Sendak's Outside Over There? Possibly. (No, I'm not going to look it up.)

What can I say here? Great story, only slight negative I have is the (tendency nowadays?) inclusion of "white folks are racist" themes. I am so tired of reading this in books. It ruined Rushdie's Quichotte for me so much that I quit reading it halfway, and it'll be a hard sell for me to read any other book by him. In this book, I dropped it one star due to this. I highlighted several areas in the book where the author's characters insisted that we're all racist. Sorry if you experienced that in your life, but it's not common. No, not even in the south.

But this book is more than that, thankfully. It is magical realism, just like his other book. This one takes the poem farther. And it doesn't hold back on the killin'. 

Spoilers, what they are, complete.

Well worth your time. I'm going to keep reading LaValle: he's creative and original. Two things I adore in an author. 

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