Saturday, April 04, 2015

D is for Desire

April A-to-Z: must-read books

Mysterious Skin (1996)
By Scott Heim
(1966-) Kansas

This was the first book I read presented in first-person tense from two different characters in alternating chapters. Thank goodness I didn’t throw it aside as was my initial impulse as I stumbled into chapter two.

The two main characters are teenage products of their childhood traumas. One boy’s past is veiled in mystery while the other appears to have taken in stride circumstances no doubt troubling to the reader. So different are the characters I must assume that one author could not have written both from personal experience and yet to Heim’s significant credit, both are brought to life with touching intimacy in this, his first published novel.

In a society riddled with illusions it is the outsiders who have the most difficult paths but also the greatest potential rewards, in terms of accessing truth. This is a story of two such converging paths.

This book is a must-read for anyone with a heart for the underdog.

Some praise for Mysterious Skin, with which I wholeheartedly agree:

“The boldness and invention of this first novel are astonishing… It is an even , well-ordered place hiding gullies and beasts that will ambush its readers and leave a permanent mark on our dreams.” –Matthew Stadler, author

“Eerie, precise, emotionally complex, quietly charismatic, and full of grace…” –Dennis Cooper, author of Try and Frisk

A passage:

                “Merry Christmas,” I said to Neil and Brian. They still stared at the house, stared beyond its glass and wood and aluminum siding, stared at what had happened inside, years ago. Neil’s face was anxious, heartbreaking in its bruised and swollen state. Brian’s face had leached of color.
                I wasn’t part of this. Where else did I have to go but away?
                I could have said “I have to leave now,” could have explained “it’s better if you two are alone,” but I didn’t say a word. I raised my hand, fingers scratching the air in good-bye, and spun around. I stood there, my back to them, these two people I’d united at last. Then I began walking. The air made brittle stabs at my face, and I swallowed icy mouthfuls.
                I tried telepathy one final time. I didn’t care about its foolishness. I zeroed my mind on theirs, hoping Neil and Brian would hear, just this once. I love you both.


Unknown said...

Hi! I'm Linda from Pam's Unconventional Alliance. This is a great theme, very ambitious, look forward to all your recs! Good luck with the Challenge!

cammies on the floor said...

I will have to check out this book. Haven't read it but it sounds as though something I would like to read.