Going Home (The Survivalist, #1) by A. AmericanImagine you’re driving down the interstate, it’s Friday and all you can think about is getting your weekend started. Then to begin the ruination of your much anticipated weekend the grating tone of the Emergency Alert System flashes over the radio, then promptly dies.
This is the beginning of a 250 mile odyssey for Morgan Carter. Morgan works on the road and finds himself far from home when his car dies, as well as his Blackberry and every other piece of electronics he has. With no idea what has occurred he reluctantly finds himself on shanks’ mare carrying that ridiculous pack that everyone made fun of him for keeping in the car. Morgan has to find his way across the state of Florida, from Tallahassee to the heart of the state in Lake County.
Along his way he has to seek out food, water and shelter where he can, not to mention keeping himself from being killed by any number of now scared and desperate people. During his travels he will try and help where he can, but that can turn out to be a costly mistake. We live in a wonderfully modern society where anything we want is a mouse click away. The lights come on with the flip of a switch and even a child can turn on the faucet at the sink and water always comes out. But what if it all went away?
Could you face what Morgan faces, could you make the decisions he has to make? Life and sometimes death in the blink of an eye, could you do it?
Ways of Going Home by Alejandro Zambra – review
A brilliant novel from "the herald of a new wave of Chilean fiction" Marcela Valdes, The Nation Alejandro Zambra's Ways of Going Home begins with an earthquake, seen through the eyes of an unnamed nine-year-old boy who lives in an undistinguished middle-class housing development in a suburb of Santiago, Chile. In the second section, the protagonist is the writer of the story begun in the first section. His father is a man of few words who claims to be apolitical but who quietly sympathized—to what degree, the author isn't sure—with the Pinochet regime. His reflections on the progress of the novel and on his own life—which is strikingly similar to the life of his novel's protagonist—expose the raw suture of fiction and reality. Ways of Going Home switches between author and character, past and present, reflecting with melancholy and rage on the history of a nation and on a generation born too late—the generation which, as the author-narrator puts it, learned to read and write while their parents became accomplices or victims. Once, I got lost. I was six or seven.
With pages, short chapter sections, and wide line breaks, the book looks and reads like a breeze. Listing its plot points would be boring and its themes—love, family, writing, the past—are almost predictable. They left me too overwhelmed to go on reading. And it is in these moments that the magic of this book lies. Ways was not a great read because of what happened but because of the emotions it evoked. As in his first book Bonsai, Zambra uses the same setup—the narrator is a writer living by himself, smoking cigarettes, sleeping with girls, trying to write a novel.
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These instances abound: life imitating art, while art reflects back images of life. The Chilean poet and novelist Alejandro Zambra has swiftly become one of my favorite contemporary writers. I read his first two novels in translation in a single afternoon, but their momentum stayed with me for days. Like they do, it deals with the processes of writing and storytelling; this, though, is as far as the similarities go. While it is only a few dozen pages longer than the first two, it is by far the most fully developed.
In a summary, most literary careers nowadays — in New York or Zagreb — can look eerily similar. Take, for instance, the case of Alejandro Zambra. Zambra is a Chilean who has so far written three novels. He was born in , and teaches literature at the Diego Portales University in Santiago. His career, in other words, has the usual global vibe. But if you held his novels in your hand, then something much stranger would be immediately apparent. All of them are marked by a uniquely manic brevity.