10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A Young Dreamer in Morocco,
This review is from: Tea at the Grand Tazi (Paperback)
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I found myself intensely involved with this unusual novel- the act of reading it for me was like embarking upon a magical mystery tour or falling down a rabbit hole. The story itself is familiar enough - a young woman artist, disappointed by love and her career takes up a vague appointment in Morocco for a character called The Historian. She is neglected there and is in a place where she experiences misogyny. She falls prey to neediness and gratitude for scraps of attention and becomes a conduit for bad energies. I was horrified by the later turn of events, especially as I identified with certain aspects of Maia - the feistiness and vulnerability, the backbiting from other women and when I was younger the neediness. I was equally relieved at Maia's final ability to draw upon her own strength to help herself out of a tight fix. Another aspect of my identification with the central character was her painting as at around the same period of my life I was involved in the creative arts.
I am full of admiration for Alexandra Singer for writing this book having survived a long coma and a near fatal neurological illness. I have a sense however, that the illness may have given her an enviable tap-line into the creative unconscious. If I can try to explain: the viewpoint of the narration seems like that of a dream. I used to be an avid recorder of my dreams which is perhaps why I have picked up this. For example, in one scene Maia drunkenly lunges at Cassandra but the other men present are too 'transfixed' to attempt to stop her. Armand puts his arm around Cassandra but is silent, 'alternately gazing at Maia and examining his fingernails.' For me, it is this type of precise yet seemingly random description that gives one the feeling of hyper-reality. You feel that you are present and watching through a camera. This seems quite aptly, hallucinatory at points and time is stretched and shrunk - minutes can last several pages and weeks can pass by in a single line.
I am very excited by the dream-type language of Tea at the Grand Tazi. I have never read a book quite like it. The narrative technique had the ultimate effect for me of identifying strongly with Maia on both an unconscious level and in terms of my younger self. I recommend it wholeheartedly to other readers. I think you will get as involved with this story as I did.