by Clifford Garstang
As many stories, as many characters and as many perspectives – but not quite yet.
What The Zhang Boys Know opens with a family scene, quite typical for many families, and therefore so easy to relate to, to place oneself into the shoes of the father, the children, the observers who enter into the scene, abruptly, but somehow we know – there’s a purpose, author’s intent behind this.
Long sentences intermingle with short sentences, and again, very soon it becomes evident that there’s a meaning for this too. The novel reads like a stream of consciousness, internal dialogue, each new chapter – a short story, complete and self-sufficient – telling us something about each new character in the book.
They’re all united, living under one roof, knowing things about each other, speculating about things when not knowing exactly… How very human. And this is the sentiment that strikes the most in this book – the feeling of humanity, our likeness, our being predictable, living within a behavioral frame, so easy to guess, yet so surprising, only because we always hope not to turn out like our neighbor, wanting to be different. And that, we are not.
Human emotions, compassion, disappointment, sadness, anger, fear, lust drive the momentum of each story, make one want to turn the pages of What The Zhang Boys Know, make one want to find out what happens next.
This novel is a great companion on a carefree Sunday morning, with a cup of coffee in bed, with blinds half shut, tucked into warm and soft pillows and blankets, reading through, getting to know someone else, an imaginary someone, perhaps, but only on a surface.
Author Clifford Garstang has done it, a very refreshing literary experience, and what a privilege to have access to the world he created.
Copyright Camilla Stein ©2012. All rights reserved.