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Blossom by Donigan Merritt
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Blossom (2011)

by Donigan Merritt

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52. Blossom by Donigan Merritt (2011, 394 pages, read Nov 30 – Dec 7)

Desire. There is a meaning there that is almost ruined by the word itself. It’s a feeling, a need, a transient state, although one that can last a long time. Desire comes from something we want but only because we don’t have it, like hunger. The fulfillment destroys its existence.

This is what I was thinking about through the early part of this book, which is a little odd because while this book certainly explores desire in this way, it’s only one theme, maybe a sub-theme. This book is about the Deep South, small town Arkansas in the 1960’s and again in the 1980’s, about long memories and our inability to escape our personal histories, about racism (from a white perspective), about coming of age, and adolescent love and sex. Henry David Early, Jr. ran out of Blossom, Arkansas in 1965, abandoning his foster father, his college degree and his girlfriend, disappearing completely. He returns 20 years later, in 1985, only after finding out about his father’s death about six months before.

My pondering of desire came about as Davey reflects on his memories and as he observes the Blossom of 1985. Eventually the book evolves out of this and into something more of a plot and the book begins to fail, or at least develops a weak spot. There is an inherent weakness in writing sympathetically about the black experience in the south from a white perspective. The black characters tend to lose their flaws, and fail to materialize into personalities of depth. But, I shouldn’t dwell on this, the book moves on.

This is the third book I’ve read by Merritt, who I originally discovered through LibraryThing.com’s Early Reviewer program. It was eagerly anticipated by me and maybe ten and half other people. He’s a small hidden gem with very clean clear prose that encourages minds like mine to wander and reflect as characters reflect. I find it mentally cathartic. ( )
2 vote dchaikin | Dec 18, 2011 |
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