Friday, February 19, 2010

Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje

Divisadero is a wonderfully poetic novel, filled with beautiful language, memorable characters and deep symbolism. It is an atmospheric book best read with a quiet heart in a darkened room.

Divisadero is, of course, a street in San Francisco. But the name of the street describes the book's tenor: characters are divided from the things they love and long for unity.

Both Anna and Claire's mothers died in childbirth. Anna's father adopts Claire and raises the girls, along with Coop, a somewhat older boy whose parents died tragically. A romance between Anna and Coop drives them both from the family farm, he to the life of a gambler, she as a poet and academic. Anna finds herself in France, studying the melancholy life of a French poet/novelist, whose life story makes up half of this novel.

Nothing is really resolved in this novel, which is frustrating at first, but is the only possible ending for a book about such divided and unfocused lives.

I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in literary fiction.

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