Aurora by Junot Díaz, 1996
The magic trick:
Structuring the story as a collection of scenes rather than a strict, standard plot
I’ve been on the fence when it comes to some of the Junot Díaz stuff I’ve read in the past. Not this one. I’m over the fence. This is a really, really good story. It is probably time I sat down with the complete Drown collection.
The story recalls my favorite Stuart Dybek and Sherman Alexie stories in that it doesn’t have a straight-line narrative, per se. It is more a collection of memories and vignettes. It could begin and end almost anywhere within the story – which really is the central point. These characters’ lives are going nowhere. They are lost in endless cycles of addiction and sadness and self-destructive behaviors.
Yes, it is a love story but a very, very sad kind of love. The way that the scenes come and go, with no adherence to a standard plot, allows the reader to get a full sense of this world. Not all of the scenes develop the love story, but they all serve to paint a vivid – and sad – picture of this lifestyle. And that’s quite a trick on Díaz’s part.
We don’t see each other much. Twice a month, four times maybe. Time don’t flow right with me these days but I know it ain’t often. I got my own life now, she tells me but you don’t need to be an expert to see that she’s flying again. That’s what she’s got going on, that’s what’s new.
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