Haley's Reviews > Resistance

Resistance by Barry López
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Nov 15, 2011

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by Barry Lopez

Published: 2004

Resistance, by Barry Holstun Lopez, is a work of fiction which tells the stories of nine unique individuals, all who have resisted mainstream culture. In some instances this resistance leads Lopez's characters to be of government interest. In others, the characters are simply described as outsiders and embark on a journey of self discovery.

Throughout the novel, Lopez does an exceptional job of creating a distinct voice for each character that is introduced. He does this by writing each chapter from a new characters perspective. The entire book is told in first person, through the eyes of the new person speaking. In addition to each character speaking from first person, Lopez has also created each character with a voice to speak about very different life experiences. Gary Sinclair, a traveling cabinetmaker, describes pouring himself into work as an escape from his painful memories of child molestation by saying,

"I perceived myself, accurately I thought, as a young man with only a slight limp, a defect noticed by few and one that did not slow me down. As my working years began to accumulate- work in many different circumstances on four continents...I moved between furnished room and furnished flat, first in my own country and then in the countries of other cultures, carrying my tools and making things I believed were beautiful: armoires, dining tables with matching chairs..."
A very different character, Harvey Fleming, a blind man married to a blind woman, explains his relationship with his wife, as he says, "we were working on the long pattern of our life, drawing out what lay buried deep in each other, things that wouldn't have emerged, we believed, unless they expected to survive."

As made evident by these two quotes, each character was able to relate to readers about very different real life issues in their own distinct voice.
I found it particularly interesting that Lopez waits until the end of each chapter to name which character was writing, what their job title or accomplishments were, and where they were leaving. What I mean is that each chapter starts out completely different. Lopez tells the story as if the readers know who is speaking. In actuality, he only allows readers to get to know each character, as he plows onward with their story, revealing only a little information as he goes. At the end of each chapter, the story comes "full circle" when readers are able to see who was writing. For example, the second chapter, about an unsatisfied architect who tries to find meaning in family, signs the end of her story with "Lisa Meyer, installation artist, landscape architect, the Arabella Memorial, Minneapolis, the Damien Monument, Damascus, Jordan, on leaving La Plata, Argentina." I suspect Lopez's reason for doing this was to eliminate any reader bias as they began a new chapter. By waiting to the end to fully know who the speaker is, readers simply receive the knowledge Lopez wishes to disclose on his terms, a little at a time.

I will close by saying this book was a fast and easy read, that will make all audiences feel more in tune with different cultures. Also, this book may tug on readers' hearts, since it is focused on humanizing individuals who seem to be "resisting." Lopez teaches us, that maybe it is us who are giving them reason to resist.
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