Leif's Reviews > Feeding the Ghosts

Feeding the Ghosts by Fred D'Aguiar
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Translating the atrocity of the Zong into the genre of the novel, D'Aguiar does what fellow writers David Dabydeen and M. Nourbese Philip do not: he breathes vivacity into the dead and narrates the event not as if it were an inaccessible object lost in "The sea is history," as the novel's epigraph from Derek Walcott cites, but rather as if it lingers almost accessibly in the archive of language. While his story should be read as a tale of possibilities and certainly not one of certainties, there's plenty here to support the idea that telling tales is feeding ghosts: employing words is raising a host of phantasms.

Structurally this has important ramifications as well, for as ghosts are so often seen as bad or imperfect copies of things lost, so too do the chapters copy each other, retelling the story again and again with imperfections glaring, lost, brought to light and hidden again. In D'Aguiar's hands, however, this becomes rather drudging, and his choice of themes limits the novel: the interplay between abyssal sea and grained wood is so played out, by the conclusion, that the fire is almost welcome, horrific as that might seem. Elementally, however, it is a healing fire, for it releases the novel's ghosts into the final aspect: the air, where they belong. Not a bad novel, not a good one either, this is certainly one that D'Aguiar needed to write.
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Reading Progress

May 22, 2013 – Started Reading
May 22, 2013 – Shelved
May 24, 2013 – Finished Reading

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