Present Tense Book Review – Hand Me Down World: Part 3

(Part Two of this Present Tense Book Review.)

In the last third of the book we hear from Ines, the young African whose story has been unravelling through the testimony of others. It’s interesting to have multiple points of view in the narrative, but they’re a bit too far apart for my (admittedly ropey) memory. I’m sure there are all sorts of conflicts between the stories, and lots of thought-provoking nuances, but much of it went over my head, as I couldn’t remember the details of what had occurred previously. So either Ines comments on the inconsistencies (having read other people’s stories before writing her own), or I have to flick back if I get the sense that I’m missing something. I read a very good book last year that messed around with linguistic and narrative devices, and that had an index which was playfully incomplete as part of the messing around, but was also quite handy. Although I’m not really sure if that would have worked here.

I think this book would bear up well to a second or third reading, and unless you’ve got a particularly good memory, that is perhaps the only way to appreciate it properly. However, I didn’t enjoy it so much that I want to re-read it immediately. It’s unconvential, and fun, in an intellectual, noodly kind of way; but the narrative is a bit thin, and none of the characters endeared themselves to me. Which might have been the point, but it doesn’t exactly make the book a joy to read.

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