Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Giller-a-thon: Book Number One: Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje

Completion Date: September 18, 2007
Publication Year: 2007
Pages: 273
Received from Random House in 2007

Reason for Reading: My attempt to read as many of the Giller-nominated books as possible before the short-list is announced.
Michael Ondaatje's eagerly anticipated new novel, Divisadero, unravels a haunting story that ranges from northern California to central France, introducing characters who become part of our own lives. Divisadero brings together all of the elements for which Michael Ondaatje's fiction is celebrated.
When I started this book earlier today, I was not sure if I was going to like it, but as the book got going I was hooked. It is probably obvious in the fact that I read it in a matter of hours. I have only read one other Michael Ondaatje book, but now I plan to move his other books up the the to-be-read pile. I immensely enjoyed this book.

I find myself trying to pinpoint why I was captured with this book, and it is hard to put my finger on it. I liked the writing style. Not too much description that you got bogged down, but not so little that you were not aware of what was going on. I really liked how all the little pieces came together and how the lives of the characters were related not just by knowing each other, but just by moments that occurred in more than one life. The most unrelated characters could be so much the same in just a few pages, surprising me in how they came together so easily.

This book starts out being about two sisters and their adopted handyman. He was never thought of as their brother, but their father did in fact bring him in and raise him. At the onset of a storm, though, this happy unity is destroyed and the characters are pushed out into the world to create their own stories. The two sisters, Claire and Anna, and the handyman, Cooper, would appear again to tell their stories. Their lives would become intertwined with other characters that would lead to more stories being told. In many ways, this is not a predicatable book at all. There is thought behind each line and sentence that goes far in making a very brilliant framework for a story that is only revealed to the reader as they flip through the pages.

This book is relatively short, just under 300 pages, but the reader gets the chance to be caught up in a story that I was very sad to see end. It will leave you thinking as you flip to the last page, and it will capture you in such a way that you do not want to put it down. Ondaatje is a literary genius in many ways, and I look forward to reading the rest of his books.

My Giller-a-thon is off to a very good start!

Other Reviews I Posted Recently:
A Book I Recommed: Baptism of Fire by Nathan Greenfield.
One I Do Not Recommend: Mademoiselle Victorine


  1. I also disliked Mademoiselle Victorine.

    But, surprisingly, I was reticent to like the Ondaantje too. I usually enjoy his poetic writing, but was not fond of Divisadero!

  2. hm, I wonder if I had read his other books I would think the same. Divisadero was only my second Ondaatje.

  3. Did he write The English Patient?? That was one of those books everyone liked...but me!!

    Will have to think about another book by him!

  4. Yes, he wrote The English Patient. I own it but I have never read it.


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