Alejandro Zamba’s Bonsai is a short book. I needed the comfort of brevity after reading Patrick White’s Voss, which goes on for considerable pages, and perhaps says less than what Bonsai says in less than a quarter ink.
Sometimes you like a book because it manages to haunt you with thoughts that you did not have earlier. But often, you like a book because it resonates with some of your own thoughts, tribulations or experiences.
I liked small bits in this book. liked them a lot. For instance the way the relationship at the center of the story begins and ends. Long ago, I had someone tell me – If you can see the end, the end is already here. And never have I seen those thoughts mirrored more perceptively than here in this slim novel.
I liked the way characters are kept at edge, deemed unimportant to the story. And I like how they still barge in, demanding a larger space, even in such few pages.
Towards the end, the story steered off into another dimension, and I did not much care for it. But by that time, it had already endeared itself.
There is something about the Latin American writers – they read. A lot. It always comes back in their writing. And sometimes, you can read them to build your reading list.