Post Script: Others of My Kind – James Sallis

The provocative new novel by the acclaimed master of noir, “the ‘purest’ writer of crime fiction in America today.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

At age eight, Jenny Rowan was abducted and kept for two years in a box beneath her captor’s bed. Eventually she escaped and, after living for eighteen months on castoffs at the local mall, was put into the child-care system. Suing for emancipation, at age sixteen she became a legal adult. Nowadays she works as a production editor for the local public TV station, and is one of the world’s good people.

One evening she returns home to find a detective waiting for her. Though her records are sealed, he somehow knows her story. He asks if she can help with a young woman who, like her many years before, has been abducted and traumatized.

Initially hesitant, Jenny decides to get involved, reviving buried memories and setting in motion an unexpected interchange with the president herself. As brilliantly spare and compact as are all of James Sallis’s novels, Others of My Kind stands apart for its female protagonist. Set in a near future of political turmoil, it is a story of how we overcome, how we shape ourselves by what happens to us, and of how the human spirit, whatever horrors it undergoes, will not be put down.

James Sallis is the acclaimed author of more than two dozen volumes of fiction, poetry, translation, essays, and criticism, including the Lew Griffin series, The Killer Is DyingDrive (made into the movie of the same name), Cypress GroveCripple Creek, and Salt River. His biography of the great crime writer Chester Himes is an acknowledged classic. Sallis lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife, Karyn, and an enormous white cat.

My View:

A story of a strong female protagonist who survives a horrendous experience of childhood abduction, captivity and sexual servitude before she escapes, survives for a while on the streets before eventually becoming a captive of the child social service system. This woman is tough, resourceful, self reliant and able to study and eventually find a place in the bigger world.  She is remarkably adaptable, self sufficient, without anger and talented. I felt that a good story would unfold but to me the heroine lacked emotions and felt two dimensional. How can a woman who has been through so much be so giving, kind, gracious, helpful and wanting of no real human connection – her character felt to be at odds with her experiences.  It didn’t work for me.

This novel was very spare as the description stated, a little to spare for my liking. I did not connect with this character, I felt she had no real spirit, that her past defined her as only a shell of a person living a day to day existence, surviving but not really living (and that is totally understandable given her situation).  She seems to have no enjoyment in her life, nor any  pleasures, big or small.  She reaches out to others in need of compassion but I don’t feel she connects with them.

 

One thought on “Post Script: Others of My Kind – James Sallis

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