Monday, September 26, 2011
When you find the one, never let her go
Minotaur intrigued me from the jacket info. The premise of a man falling in love with a woman he never meets, except through letters and the the effect this has on their lives had me interested, the format of the story even more so. When an author uses a writing or narrative structure simply to use it, often the reader feels like the story was sacrificed for said structure. With Minotaur, I did not find that to be the case. Tammuz pulls off the difficult task of not only singling out the story of each character, but also of showing their connections. The backstory of each endows the reader with a deeper understanding of where they come from and why they take the actions they do.
Alexander Abramov's quest to find the woman of his dreams begins at such a young age. His connection to music leads him to believe that the only person who will ever be the one for him is the person he can share the magical third sphere with. However, it takes him a little longer than expected. I love that it's his story that we hear last and hers that we hear first. Her story, while intriguing, is more often than not simply background for the male characters to spin their lives around. For the record, I don't write that as a negative. This young woman must have some kind of something going on, because not a man in this story can help themselves. They don't just fall for her. They can see no other objective.
That aspect makes me laugh a little, think a lot. How often have each of us either been in or known someone else who has been in such a situation? For our young lady, she has no such illusions per se of there being a one and only one. She sees the levels of attraction, desire and love like all of us, but feels no need to hold out indefinitely for her ideal even if she knows the ones in between may pale in comparison to her mystery man. Abramov, on the other hand, has his marriage of convenience and need due to cultural and other social mores in his home country. The reader never mistakes this for a choice, but a necessity. Abramov is single-minded as he grows older in finding the woman he has been searching. The other characters similarly focus all of their energies on this woman.
When Abramov finds her...oh my, it's like thunder, lightning, hunger and need all rolled up into one. Leading him to write to her. Constantly. At first, our young lady is surprised. As the years (yes, years) go by, she realizes that this mysterious man might be the love of her life. If she could ever meet him. Unlike Abramov, she refuses to wait around no matter her feelings. You may think this is giving away the plot; you would be wrong. This is the skeleton around the interactions of four individuals occur, to conclusions both sad and tragic. I think Tammuz, although he may have his characters question the existence of just one person to be the match for each of us, has his own answer already decided. Our heroine may even change her mind before all is said and done.
The format was great. Each character's story starts further back than the one before, so it takes a little longer each time to get back to the events that open the book. Each time, I was kept in the dark about when and how that would occur. It was extremely effective, keeping me on the edge of my seat throughout. This is a great read and a fun one, but it is one that most importantly deserves your thoughts as well as your time. For the reader going in with their thinking cap on, Minotaur presents you with some tough questions about what love is, and what love requires.