September 23, 2014

CYNTHIA BOND is on the Blog Today! #30Authors Event

30 Authors in 30 Days is a first of its kind event aimed at connecting readers, bloggers, and authors. Hosted by The Book Wheel, this month-long event takes place during September and features 30 authors discussing their favorite recent reads on 30 different blogs. There are also some great prizes provided by GoneReading.com and BookJigs(See giveaway here).
For the full schedule of participating authors and bloggers, visit The Book Wheel or join the Facebook group. You can also follow along on Twitter with the #30Authors hashtag!

Today author Cynthia Bond (RUBY) reviews the book, Euphoria, by Lily King!



Euphoria
By Lily King
A review by Cynthia Bond
A dead baby bobbing in a swirling river, pitched in easily, indiscriminately.  This is how Lily King’s Euphoria begins.  I was afraid to read this novel.  Not because of the impending, combustible threat that weaves throughout the story.  I was afraid because I am a black woman, and I often step gingerly into novels about indigenous peoples written by whites.  Especially when the work is strong and visceral.  Especially when the thick roll of sex and want and lust permeates my senses as I read.  The groundbreaking Margaret Mead, her husband Rio Fortune and English anthropologist Gregory Bateson are the inspiration for the characters in Euphoria.  My fear was that King could not convey their unavoidable limitations given white privilege and the anthropological beliefs of the day.  What I found instead was unapologetic storytelling.  King does not comment, condemn, nor does she condone.  We are left to draw our own conclusions.

After paddling away from a community that kills it’s first-born, we are thrown onto a yacht, with Australian bottle blonds and senseless prattle.  Nell is ill and covered in lesions, which her husband, Fen patently ignores.  Andrew Bankson completes the triad after a poetically inventive, yet failed suicide attempt.  We then watch as their lives begin to entwine and tangle in slippery dangerous knots. Within this well-executed novel, I found much to admire including the things that were unseen, unsaid.  The shouts and curses behind a wall in the men’s hut, chilled me.  And Fen blurting out that he likes normal sex, and Nell responding, “not children” were dots I did not need to connect. I felt, as a writer, I learned something from this secrecy…this willingness to not explain shadows.  I felt the longing between Nell and Bankson in the back of my throat, where I always feel ache and longing. Fen’s anger and vitriol repelled yet captivated me. The characters were intricately drawn in fractured contradictions.

Nell Stone is able to adapt her stance, her walk, to mirror the Tan, the tribe living on the Sepik River in New Guinea she has come to study.  She learns their secrets, helps with births and shares her treasures with the children.  Still, she and her husband Fen seem very comfortable having those same people build a relatively expansive home for them, fit with a desk and real mattress, alongside this community—a fact that Bankson is acutely aware of.  Bankson is a beautifully flawed man—his strength made more compelling by his weakness.  I, too, fell in love with his voice, his heart.
The only time I wanted more was when I was unable to hear the story of the tribe’s returned hero. This voice, and what it would have shared, could have drawn the arc, linking the lives of whites and blacks.


I loved dipping into a new world—not so much that of the Tam, but of this strange tribe of whites--their rituals, customs and their belief that it is possible to accurately categorize and chronicle any culture, once they have shifted the horizon with their very presence.


Information for Lily King and Euphoria:


Cynthia Bond

BIO:
Cynthia Bond's debut novel, RUBY is a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick and an Indie pick. A PEN Rosenthal Fellow, Cynthia has taught writing for fifteen years.  RUBY is published by Hogarth Press, a division of Crown/Random House. Available on these sites.


Information for Cynthia Bond:


Thanks so much to Cynthia Bond for sharing this review with us today! And thank you to Allison at The Book Wheel for organizing this fun event! Be sure to check out Cynthia Bond's site, as well as Lily King's, and then take a look here for more #30Authors Event fun!

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