There There by Tommy Orange is an amazing book. It started slow for me as you can tell if you look at a previous post. But soon I began to see how the entire novel was pointing to a climactic scene that ties everything in the novel cleverly together.
I admit that I am a bit skeptical of writers emerging these days from workshops. But this guy proved to me that not only can he write but he has something to say. I see why it was a Pulitzer Prize finalist.
Each chapter title is a character’s name (with the exception of one called Interlude) One chapter introduces Thomas Frank, “Cheyenne Drummer who formerly worked as a custodian at the Indian Center.” This entire chapter is a tour de force of beauty and pain. It begins with Frank as a sperm and an egg in his parents before they met:
Before you were born, you were a head and a tail in a milky pool.—a swimmer. You were a race, a dying off, a breaking through, an arrival. Before you were born, you were an egg in your mom who was an egg in her mom. Before you were born, you were the nested Russian grandmother doll of possibilities in your mom’s ovaries. You were two halves of a thousand different kinds of possibilities, a million heads or tails, flip-shine on a spun coin.”
And so on. By the end of the book I was flipping back and forth and understanding how Organ had carefully prepared the entire story. Wow. What a read!