Happiness

So much to enjoy about Happiness, a 2018 novel by Aminatta Forna: eco-sensitivity, recreational running, Esperanto, early-onset Alzheimer's, racial justice and the collision of black/white worlds, urban animals, and dozens of delicious meals deliciously described. Forna's prose is smooth and striking. For example, from Chapter 4 as one of the central characters enters an assisted-care home:

The residents' day room faced the back of the building. A semicircle of high-backed chairs arranged in front of a large window looked out onto a handkerchief of weed-pocked lawn. Each chair held a sleeping occupant, head lolled to one side or else folded chin to chest, skin pale and creased as origami paper, hands bent sharply at the wrist lay in laps like dying birds. The air fluttered with the sound of stuttered breaths. In here the curtains were drawn and the light of day cut through the still air and lit the dust motes. Attila advanced bearing in his hand a box of New Berry Fruits. He was aware of feeling powerfully alive, every beat of his heart, the rush of blood, vital organs throbbing with life, the snap of synapses, here in this roomful of fading souls.

And so much to be annoyed by in Happiness: countless comma splice faults, characters who are either Christlike or Satanic, obtrusively ostentatious vocabulary usage, and ridiculous coincidences ridiculously justified. Most distracting, perhaps: the depiction of psychology as storytelling. No data, no evidence, no logic, no experiment. Only feel, emotional appeal. Much too weak a foundation to base a book's conclusion on, however side-of-the-angels that conclusion may be.

^z - 2018-08-17