A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

Anthony Marra

PUBLISHED 02.04.2014

06.18.2018 – 06.24.2018

GENRE Fiction

Something’s going on this year and it’s taking me way too long to write these reviews. As such I’m finding different things are sticking with me – not details, because details of books never stick with me for more than a few days – but feelings, impressions, the much more ambiguous and nebulous “taste in my mouth.” I remember this book’s tenderness, this book’s careful empathy, and the dark red feeling that stuck with me. Despite the violence at this book’s core it does not feel aggressive but meditative; I suppose this might turn some people off but I found myself immersed instead.

My expectations were pretty high coming off of a relatively recent read of The Tsar of Love and Techno , but this book exceeded those expectations. I laughed, I cried, I learned. I loved Akhmed, adorable and flawed. I loved Sonja, one of the great prickly women I’ve read recently, a trope I always lean towards when done well. And, I loved Havaa, a realistic precocious child (so hard to write!). I loved the prose, which was once again gorgeous without being precious.

This book filled me with a great sense of optimism and warmth, mingled with incredible sadness, and though I might not remember exactly why (God I hate my memory!), that’s a peculiar feeling that’s stuck with me every time I’ve even spotted the cover of this book on my shelf.