Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Known World




Wow. Exhausting. Tremendous. What a book.
I felt like I needed to make a genealogical chart to keep track of these characters. I needed a great Oak to carry and organize each person, to follow the limbs of each intricate story line. Edward P. Jones incorporates so many details that I found it difficult to accept that this book was not true. Fiction? Impossible.
How could these characters not be real? Is there really no Blueberry foundation? No Moses? No Augustus? He and his bloodline were so real to me.
Manchester County existed a million times over and yet it was never on a map.
The vivid epic unravels with an exploration of slavery on a Southern plantation. The title, The Known World, was an excellent tool in expressing that a person's world could be as simple as a few feet of a dusty path or as large as a ship drifting from France to a jail cell. Jones touches and prods at the heart of this racist and tumultuous county in Virginia from around the world without really ever leaving the taste of dirt on the Townsend plantation.
With each page, you could feel the grit in your teeth and the ache in your heart. The Known World is an emotional commitment.
Each page is filled to the brim with story. Each graph teeter-totters between detailed back story and summations of the future. No character is introduced without a thorough investigation of their past and future as well as a brief listing of their relatives and offspring.
Storylines were laced with blatant foreshadowing while also dabbling in paranormal symbolism. The latter of which I must admit would become difficult to absorb. I can only take so many talking animals and dancing trees. But this aside, I hated to put the book down for fear of what may happen to these characters.

What did you think?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is one of my favorites, too. So rich in evocative detail and paced perfectly. It swoops and soars and occasionally winks. Now who was crazy?