Saturday, July 2, 2011

Acts of Violence

Ryan David Jahn
Acts of Violence

Pan Books, 2010

Ryan David Jahn's debut novel by is based on real events that happened in New York in the 60s. Katrina Marino came back from work at night, when at the yard of her home she was attacked by a maniac with a knife. After leaving the girl bleeding on the pavement, a man has gone. Several neighbors hear cries for help, but none of them do not even call the police and do not go down to help a wounded girl. All the neighbors have their problems, bleeding neighbor is not on first place in their list of priorities. A young man discusses with his dying of an incurable disease mother draft in the army. Two married couples exchange partners in order to experience new feelings in sex. A black man comes up with a plan to hide the fact that his wife hit by a car a child. A man wants to commit suicide. While the neighbors themselves are on the verge of a nervous breakdown and Katrina is crawling on the pavement, hoping to reach her own flat, the killer realizes that his job is not finished and returnes to the scene.

Jahn in his novel uses a narrative technique, which successfully at one time director Alejandro González Iñárritu employed in his films: short chapters tell stories of each of the characters from the victim to the murderer, and the reader is waiting for a dozen different fates finally interwine, but this does not happen. All the neighbors, as well as the victim and the murderer, are united only by one house and one night, but there is no explosive effect, linking all the characters. The book's characters are linked not by action, and inaction, non-action. But these "good neighbors" (this is the American title of the book) won’t have to regret what happened. The events of that night will quickly erase from their memory. This did not happen to them, this happened to someone else. Jahn has enough skill and intelligence to not teach a reader a morality, the author is already reticent. He takes away all the unnecessary from the text, leaving the pain, fear and darkness.

In this gloomy book, Jahn shows how much damage can bring inaction.

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