Tuesday, January 27, 2009
"The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing" first came to my attention in a review of "children's book." My wife pointed out the article to me, and Octavian particularly, and said, "I'm not smart enough to understand this book, I don't see how it's written for children." True dat. It's about a child and that's the only child-like thing about it. Set in Massachusetts on the eve of the American Revolution, the novel is a full-blown examination of the cruelty and irony of early American slavery practices, where Africans were captured, pressed into agricultural labor and domestic service, and then found their chains bound even tighter when the American colonists feared the British were fomenting trouble by offering the slaves freedom if they would fight against their masters on the British side.