Physical: The catastrophe of desire by Mari Reiza is a wild ride of a read. For both main characters, two middle aged women, Kiki and Fatima, it is indeed a catastrophe, but of their own making. Kiki is virtually strapped in a small town in Northern Italy and finds herself alone after her longtime boyfriend leaves for an “upgrade”. Fatima finds herself in a crisis of identity after having twins and struggles to find purpose in her enlarged family. Yet, both women feel pulled along by their baser desires to rekindle the energy and passion they had in their youth.
Overall, the book reads very fast pace, which for a shorter book is expected and I would say enjoyed it. There are moments where the book reads as if Reiza is experimenting with stream of conscious, but then it breaks away from that to continue in a more traditional narrative pattern. The change can occur on the same page or even within the same paragraph, which may be disconcerting to the careful reader.
The characters themselves are a varied mix of character strengths and flaws that can keeps the reader engaged. Kiki has a mouth like a sailor and clearly has a drive and motivation to make something of herself if she can overcome her very physical, base needs. There were times it was hard to follow her storyline given that she self-sabotages to a large degree. Fatima on the other hand seems to be the polar opposite, in the sense that she is in a steady marital relationship with children, something Kiki is allergic to. Fatima is no prude though and is as explicit as Kiki is about sex and the like. Both women seem driven to try and enliven their lives in any way they can no matter the cost, even if it dramatically disrupts their lives.
The story is told through both women point of view in alternating chapters and some heavy style choice make the narrative more “telling” than “showing”. But these are easy to push past as you get drawn into the struggle of Kiki and Fatima. The strongest point of Reiza’s writing is that you can truly feel where these women are coming from in their midlife crises. They are clearly tired and bored of their current lifestyle and need to do something to shake it up. It truly appeals to the deepest core beliefs that individuals can have when they have reached a “rock bottom” or stagnant part of life.
Overall, it is a classic contemporary fiction story. Of two women trying as best they can to beat back the overshadowing struggle of age and day to day responsibilities. Passion isn’t only reserved for the youth; it can always be rekindled later with a little help.
Pages: 143 | ASIN: B01N9ZU9XL
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West bEgg follows four characters and their bosses who are part of the powerful elite class of society. This is an intriguing setup to a novel that is high in social commentary. What was your goal when writing this novel?
West bEgg is a novel that came to life in pieces over the last decade when four very different friends in distant corners of the world related to me stories and complaints from their bosses which seemed farcical, as if reality had really outdone itself. At the time I only listened and laughed in disbelief, although I was also saddened that my friends, all of whom have thankfully moved on since then, rarely felt they could do much about their situation. Some time later, I read an article in The Economist suggesting that the current power elites are more talented, harder working and better educated (though in fairness it said ‘better schooled’) than in the past and it made me think back to and connect my friends’ tales together, only because I realised they told of a moment in time they had lived through in their careers that was especial, of a world particular in its madness and definitely worth recording (fictionalised of course!) to confront mankind with it.
What were some themes that you felt were important to highlight in this story?
I’ve always been astounded by how power influences people, how quickly they grow with it into strange eccentric beings, as well as how they rush to bow to it surrendering their own identities.
I loved the stark contrast between the characters and their bosses. What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?
On the side of the powerful I wanted to explore how they become increasingly distanced from reality, as well as the relationship between power and sex. On the side of the victims, I needed to dwell on the usual monsters: standing up for oneself, remaining aware of what has real value, fighting fear, loneliness and humiliation and keeping a dream.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
‘After an accident leaves her in a coma, he sits on a hospital chair day-in day-out singing to her. Nobody can pull him away from her as she threads through the dreams that could save her. Meanwhile, a delusional nurse grows her admiration for him into obsessive desire.’ ROOM 11 is a dual narrative by strong, cynical, broken heroines (a nurse and her patient) winding through tenderness, passion, sacrifice, rage, guilt and eventually forgiveness, to help them re-emerge from their separate tragedies. It will be available March 10.
“Luca is a punch bag, a tea towel, a toilet bowl, to Macco One, the undeniable and unbreakable King of Egg Power, proud of averaging over a hundred flights a year to visit chicken markets around the world. Anna moved to Catania to work for Madame Sicily fulfilling varied tasks from picking up Céline swimwear before it hits the runways, to recovering badly parked Lamborghinis. La Revolução dreams through buildings but builds parking spaces, when she is not helping launder money for her boss’s dad’s dodgy charities. And finally Carolina is out to conspire with Paquita who met her boss, the German, in a red lit booth, to understand why the man has to drain the passion out of everything. Their fates will collide at the preposterous Fanta party, but the question is whether their bosses will get what they deserve?
West bEgg is a novel about the behaviour of the power elite who are often still arrogant and uneducated, ridiculously flamboyant, obscene, sex-obsessed, full of entitlement, afraid of rejection and unfortunately indestructible.”
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West bEgg: the world’s new power elite centers on the narrative of four main characters; Luca, Anna, Carolina, and La Revolução. The first three characters are assistants working for demanding, ruthless, and utterly annoying bosses, while La Revolução is an architect who works under her own annoying boss as well as beside his self-righteous daughter. The main theme that connects these characters is that they all seem to hate their jobs, and the daily tasks that they are given. All characters and their bosses are brought together at The Fanta Party where, despite endless preparation, disaster strikes out of the blue.
Mari.Reiza does a beautiful job of crafting each character for the reader. While they are all united in their disdain for their bosses and perhaps even depression at their personal lives, the characters are in fact, completely different individuals. Luca knows he is a punching bag and keeps this mantra rolling on repeat throughout the short novel. Anna would never imagine standing up to her boss, and goes out of her way to make sure that everything is perfect, while Carolina is perfectly okay with getting on her boss’ nerves, yet cries to anyone that will listen about how terrible he is. And then we have La Revolução, who seems to be the most interesting out of all these characters. She is not an assistant, but she is tasked with working with Irajá, the boss’ spoiled daughter, who is more trouble than she is worth. In a way, La Revolução is an assistant to Irajá, but her ultimate concern seems to be with ‘living the dream’. This could be acquainted to actually making a difference with her life’s work, rather than building parking lots or destroying properties that act as safe houses for abused women.
Each of the characters’ stories are told through their own point of view in each chapter. The reader will read about Luca’s experience of tending to his boss’ needs, then the next chapter might switch to Carolina crying on the shoulder of a sympathetic listener. The author does a great job of leading the reader up to the moment of The Fanta Party, where all of these characters will meet. However, this is where it falls flat for the reader. As carefully planned as it might have seemed, the party meets with disaster and we find the assistants running around trying to piece everything back to together like always. It seems that the misdoings of each boss has come back to wreak havoc on this party, and the assistants are the ones left to clean up the mess. It’s all very rushed through. I felt that much of the novel detailed the daily workings of each character, only to rush onto the climax of the story and not spend enough time fleshing out what I thought was the most interesting part of the novel. This novel should definitely be applauded for the difficult positions in which it places its characters, but overall, more details and a greater climax would have been welcomed.
I loved the detailed character descriptions and the authors grasp of nuance in character development. West bEgg is a fascinating piece of fiction that colorfully reveals the lives of the upper class.
Pages: 150 | ASIN: B01N4MSUKV
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