“He had no idea that grief was a reward. That it only came to those who were loyal, to those who loved more than they were capable of.”
All of the stories in Namu Mun's collection (which bills itself as a novel...) center around one narrator, a young girl who has run away from home and was living on the street and enduring a series of horrific experiences: abusing drugs, attempting suicide, selling her body - basically getting beat up by the world in one way or the other. That is part of the sick drive the book has on you, about halfway through you realize that each story is its own tragedy, unique and grotesque in its own special way. And you can't stop reading.
The stories are not told chronologically, but randomly and from the distant present, as if they were a collection of random confessionals with a therapist (“oh yeah, and this time something happened, too”). In the end they tie together beautifully when the narrator starts to reconcile her feelings about her parents and her own responsibility for her life. The stories mimic the pattern of a series of therapy sessions, the pattern of recovery for a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, or Narcotics Anonymous - slow, rocky, with steps forward and steps back, lots of painful honesty, and a final, wavering, emotional catharsis.
I read this book almost entirely in one sitting. Maybe apropos to the subject matter, it took me a while to get into it, but without knowing it suddenly it was midnight and I’d not eaten any dinner and I was sitting on the edge of my couch clutching my iPhone scrolling between the last few pages of the Kindle app wondering why there wasn’t more.
I’ve recently been admitted into an MFA program that I am likely to attend later this year. Hoping one day to be able to write this kind of addictive fiction.