The story is enough.

The story is enough.

Monday, March 30, 2015

"Musa" by Kamel Daoud

This story can be read here in The New Yorker.

First Line: "Musa was my older brother."

Last Line:  "It was the nineteen-fifties; the Frenchwomen wore short, flowered dresses, and the sun bit at their breasts."

Kamel Daoud wrote a novel, a "response" to Albert Camus's The Stranger, creating a brother for Camus's murdered Arab: Haroun.  This piece in The New Yorker is drawn from that novel.

The story is about the grief of a widow, a mother bereft of one of her sons.  It is also the story of the remaining son, Haroun.  He has lost a father and the brother he saw as a god.  He has also lost his mother. 

The title reflects the name of the brother, but he is dead.  He is a ghost with a decided influence.  This is the tale of the living. Haroun and his mother. Their relationship is complicated, saddening and unhealthy.  He says, "for us, a mother is half the world. But I’ve never forgiven her for the way she treated me." 

She punished him for resisting death and the grief she chose: martyrdom.

I found this story to be heavy and I was anxious to put it down.  It was not a load I wanted to carry or a path I wanted to share with Haroun for too long.  

It was beautifully written.  There was vivid imagery and poignant lyricism, but it was lengthy.  Even though the plot followed a linear path, it also rambled and seemed scattered - like trying to pin down memories to allow them to unfold. 

Taking place in Algiers during the 1930s to 1950s, the descriptions of the time and space were transportive.  I could smell the spices.  I could feel the heat.  I could taste the sea and the dirt in the air.  I was engulfed in a tight and festering relationship and could see how it represented their relationship to their country as well.  

I just didn't feel comfortable there.  I was glad when I was done reading, but I was grateful for the experiences that come to us only in reading. 

I'll leave you with a line that I enjoyed from the story:
"Books gradually enabled me to name things, to organize the world with my own words."

Stories tell truth, in our own words.

No comments:

Post a Comment