Review written for ClubReading.com by Bill
Gods Go Begging is a wonderful novel about Jesse Pasadoble, a Vietnamveteran, now working as a defense attorney in San Francisco. A couple ofcurrent cases draw Jesse into a remarkable world of coincidence and tiesto the past.
This book has a great story, full of twists and turns, a cacophony ofemotion. Amplifying these amazing images, Alfredo Vea's writing style isstrong, poetic, lyrical, and at times magical. The struggles of the maincharacter and his dealing with extraordinary events in his past lead usinto weaving, dreamlike worlds.
The author sets the stage in one of the most memorable book openingsI've ever read:
For a time, they both held on to their lives, gasping softly, whispering feverishly, and bleeding profusely, their two minds far, far away from the cruel, burrowing bullets that had left them mere seconds away from death. Face to face, they spoke their last words in crimson-colored breaths. Theirs was a withering language, one for which there are no living speakers.
Then, like warriors abandoned on the field, they lay in unearthly calm as the things of life deserted them. They had seen the mad commotion boiling in the air above them. In bemused silence, they heard the alarms, the screams, and the growing wail of sirens. Pronounced dead on a cold city sidewalk, they held on to each other as the gurney rolled from the cement to asphalt and into a waiting ambulance for a long, anonymous ride. In the end it was clear to every onlooker that neither dying woman would ever let go of the other. Leaves of lemon grass had drifted to the ground from the dress pocket of one of the women, marking their trail to the ambulance. Some of the sprigs and blades were bloodstained, adding spice to the liquid life that had trickled away.
I was very intrigued by the books dramatic portrayal of people dealingwith such complex and unforgettable pasts. It's more than that, though.How do we incorporate the different lives we lead into the present? TheVietnam veteran whose mind is vividly separated by 30 years andthousands of miles. Dealing with living in both the present and livingin a war, on a hill, so far in the past, but still very much part of thepresent.
To a lesser degree, I think many of us struggle with this. How many ofus are partly stuck in some distant past? Are you still partly living inHigh School? That song on the radio that transports you back to the HighSchool lunch room. Or an old car … or a smell in the air that suddenlytakes you back to a particular beach in Puerto Rico.
And how often have we projected ourselves into the future … steadfastlystating that, 'I will never be like my parents!' - 'I'll not make thosemistakes when I'm grown'. Then you hit 35 or 40 or 45 and suddenly, yousee your father in the mirror, or your mother's voice comes out of yourmouth in a moment of frustration. Then it hits you … we are more thanthe sum of our corporal parts.
I think everyone, has the memory of a moment, where they knew forcertain that there was more to them than just this body, this pile ofchemicals, this present … this now.
Maybe standing on the beach, waiting for the sun to rise. Then thatmagical moment when the sun leaps from the horizon in an explosion ofcolor - as we spread our arms to capture every amazing bit of thatmoment, we are also spreading our wings on an ethereal world, feelingthe splendor of another sun.
Is that why we seek out books and movies and music that move us? Are we'pan-consciously' feeling our way through multiple times? Multiplelives? Each with an array of 'brothers' and 'sisters'. Other souls thatare also bound across distance and through years. Each of us linked tothat same place, that same time.
Well, who knows. But occasionally finding a book that makes me stop andthink about who I am and where I am … is why I read in the first place.If you are like me and seek out beautifully written, emotionallychallenging books - don't miss this one.
From the dedication page:
It is easy to know the beauty of inhuman things, sea, storm and
mountain; it is their soul and their meaning.
Humanity has its lesser beauty, impure and painful; we have to harden our hearts to bear it.
I have hardened my heart only a little; I have learned that happiness is important, but pain gives importance.
The use of tragedy: Lear becomes as tall as the storm he crawls in; and a tortured Jew became God.
Robinson Jeffers, The World's Wonders