Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paradys Re-imagined, 3 Feb 2010
This review is from: Kings Of The Water (Paperback)
Kings of the Water is a richly textured novel about forgiveness, reconciliation, and the many ways people face these challenging life issues. Mark Behr writes with a style that draws out complexity from every sentence, phrase, and word while still offering easy access to characters, place, and story. His language is the language of global consciousness. He fluently captures words, phrases, and nuances from languages around the world. And with English, the language of one of the most dominant forces in our world, he writes with control, depth, and beauty.

The story is about connections. Behr writes with a deep understanding of how we are connected to others through reasons of birth, love, desire, manipulation, geography, economics, sociology, and politics. He shows how loving and caring relationships can be, but he also brings them to account. Connections, in Behr's novel, are ripe with consequences. Beautiful, loving, intimate moments are rendered in scenes lush with imagery and poignant with emotion. But even these can be tinged with pain, anger, resentment, brutality, and disdain, and Behr doesn't hesitate to show the devastating impact these forces have on the heart, mind, body, and spirit.

The main character is a young man in his early thirties attempting to put the pieces of himself into some kind of order. And yes, he does find this an impossible, but on going and worthwhile task. He has left and found pieces of himself around the world in both hemispheres, on four continents, and on island nations, but the story shows us how most of his progress has been located in South Africa and the United States, where he has a different name in each, Michiel in South Africa, and Michael in the US; where he has two main languages, Afrikaans and English with an American accent; where he has two distinct families, his family of origin and its extended connections in South Africa and his family of choice and its extensions in the US and Canada; where he has two very different personas. Michiel/Michael is someone who proceeds through life with confusion and curiosity, with love and fear, with hope and terror in his attempts at integrating all the pieces that make him who he is. He is someone I think we can all identify with if we have chosen to take on life consciously and courageously.

Kings of the Water is an emotionally satisfying story even as it brings us right back where we started from: that paradoxical place of loss where all hope seems to come from. I highly recommend this novel to anyone looking for a book that you can settle into yet feel comfortable about being unsettled, and ultimately better off because of the immersion into this wonderful and terrifying world we live in no matter what our postal code is.

Mark Behr is a writer of extraordinary talent, control, and vision. I've read all three of his books. His writing is consistently beautiful. His stories are touching, intimate, and profoundly thoughtful and wise. With each rereading, you can discover more about the text, about the world, about the human condition, about yourself. Literature at its best!
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4.4 out of 5 stars (8 customer reviews)
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