Sunday, February 12, 2012

What is Alexander Yates reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Alexander Yates, author of Moondogs.

His entry begins:
The first thing I should say is that I’m not reading nearly enough, and it makes me feel like a mind-slug. My wife and I (and our two cats) are going to be moving to Rwanda in a few weeks, and preparations for that move (which include full-time French lessons) have eaten what I used to consider “free time”. That said, there are a few things I have read lately that have blown my mind.

Pacazo, by Roy Kesey, is set on the desert coast of Peru, and is about an American sunk deep into the murk of rage and grief. We witness the protagonist mourn and reel in the wake of his wife’s horrific rape and murder, cringing as he all but self immolates, taking his young daughter and friends along with him. With this subject material, the book could easily have devolved into despair tourism. But Kesey is such a generous, tender writer—he has such love for every character he breathes life into. And his sentences are sharp, prismatic. Tilt them just so, and they change meaning entirely. Tilt them...[read on]
About Moondogs, from the publisher:
A singularly effervescent novel pivoting around the disappearance of an American businessman in the Philippines and the long-suffering son, jilted lover, slick police commissioner, misguided villain, and supernatural saviors who all want a piece of him.

Mourning the recent loss of his mother, twentysome­thing Benicio—aka Benny—travels to Manila to reconnect with his estranged father, Howard. But when he arrives his father is nowhere to be found—leaving an irri­tated son to conclude that Howard has let him down for the umpteenth time. However, his father has actually been kid­napped by a meth-addled cabdriver, with grand plans to sell him to local terrorists as bait in the country’s never-ending power struggle between insurgents, separatists, and “demo­cratic” muscle.

Benicio’s search for Howard reveals more about his father’s womanizing ways and suspicious business deals, reopening the old hurts that he’d hoped to mend. Interspersed with the son’s inquiry and the father’s calamitous life in captivity are the high-octane interconnecting narratives of Reynato Ocampo, the local celebrity-hero policeman charged with rescuing Howard; Ocampo’s ragtag team of wizardry-infused soldiers; and Monique, a novice officer at the American embassy whose family still feels feverishly unmoored in the Philippines.

With blistering forward momentum, crackling dialogue, wonderfully bizarre turns, and glimpses into both Filipino and expat culture, the novel marches toward a stunning cli­max, which ultimately challenges our conventional ideas of family and identity and introduces Yates as a powerful new voice in contemporary literature.
Learn more about the book and author at Alexander Yates' website.

Writers Read: Alexander Yates.

--Marshal Zeringue