Monday, November 3, 2014

Book Review - Ghost Dance by Carole Maso

Carole Maso is the kind of author that makes you feel lost. Lost in a dream world of words and phrases, emotions and erotic tendencies. She makes you want to re-read chapters again and again, knowing that with each reading that there will be another meaning behind it. It is both satisfying and frustrating to read an author like her and yet, I did so and will continue to do with enjoyment.

In Ghost Dance, Maso's first book, the dream is very much a reality in her characters' worlds; I found it hard to return to the "real" world after reading sections of the book. Vanessa, the main character of the book, tells of her eccentric and creative family: her mother, Christine, who is a major poet; her father, Michael, who enjoys mathematics and classical music; and her brother, Fletcher, who becomes a symbol for the environmental movement. They all are, in their own way, gently insane and have seen or at least witnessed the Topaz Bird, of which is a symbol of their coming to grips with their very colourful and fragile mental state. Vanessa, as the story unfolds, tells of how her mother simply disappears one day, followed by her father and then her brother and she is left in the care of a man named Jack who loves her. She also becomes the lover of Marta, a fellow student at Vassar College, and is exposed to drugs, Sapphic desires, suicides and her mother's poetic presence. As Vanessa begins to process her family's disappearance followed by their eventual return, she reflects upon the past and how her family was never meant to be in the real world, no matter how much they may have wanted to reside there. When the family returns to the "real" world, an unfortunate yet inevitable tragedy strikes them, giving both Vanessa and Fletcher the chance to face the secrets of their family.

As I stated before, Maso writes as though she is lost in her self inflicted dream and perhaps she is; her writing is both linear and fragmented and we the readers are left to decipher what she has displayed on the pages. There is no black and white when it comes to Maso and I honestly like her more for it. In fact, it dawned on me yesterday that Carole Maso is the author version of Tori Amos.

I have checked out more of her works from the library and I can't wait to return to her words.


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