Saturday, 22 October 2011

Skibsrud, Johanna "The Sentimentalists"


Skibsrud, Johanna "The Sentimentalists" - 2010

A story of a father who wants to forget the Vietnam war and is slowly losing all his memories to Alzheimer's. A story of a daughter who would like to learn more about her father and his life. A story of a father and a daughter trying to find a way together at a late stage of their lives.

An interesting perspective, yet, quite a normal story, I think. How many children wonder about the ghosts that haunt their fathers who went to war? I know I did/do. Most of them don't want to talk about it, no matter which side they were on, whether they wanted to go or not, they just want the one thing they cannot have: forgetting. And anything that happened in the war, affects the whole family and friends forever. Because the guy who returns is not the boy who left.

Johanna Skibsrud describes this very well. And even though the daughter never finds out what really happened, she does manage to get a little closer to him in the end.

A very interesting story, simply told, yet with a lot of "texture".

From the back cover:
"Haunted by the vivid horrors of the Vietnam War, exhausted from years spent battling his memories, Napoleon Haskell leaves his North Dakota trailer and moves to Canada.

He retreats to a small Ontario town where Henry, the father of his fallen Vietnam comrade, has a home on the shore of a man-made lake. Under the water is the wreckage of what was once the town -- and the home where Henry was raised.

When Napoleon's daughter arrives, fleeing troubles of her own, she finds her father in the dark twilight of his life, and rapidly slipping into senility. With love and insatiable curiosity, she devotes herself to learning the truth about his life; and through the fog, Napoleon's past begins to emerge.

Lyrical and riveting,
The Sentimentalists is a story of what lies beneath the surface of everyday life, and of the commanding power of the past. Johanna Skibsrud's first novel marks the debut of a powerful new voice in Canadian fiction. "

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