“You have always thought if you opened your mouth in open water you would drown, but if you didn't open your mouth you would suffocate. So here you are, drowning.”
There's a poetic tint to this month's Book Group read. It's a slim volume yet packed with more language than a full-length novel. Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson is an astonishing read that doesn't allow for speed reading. Each word needs to be slowly read before devouring. There's an almost forensic dissection of every scene. It's as if a chef took a strawberry cheesecake and disassembled it upon the plate. A work that turns the mundane into a higher level.
Essentially, it's a love story, but this is no Milly Johnson. The two protagonists are a photographer and a dancer, introduced to each other by the dancer's current boyfriend. This is no normal love story. Intermingled with their love are echos of Police brutality, racism and coping with long-distance relationship. All this is told with wonderful prose that gets you to experience at first hand their lives. Then there's the music. Caleb uses music as a key to what is happening. It's the backdrop to the story. Each moment punctuated with a song, a mix or just plain music.
This is an extremely clever book. I've never seen Calebs photography, yet I can imagine how he takes an amazingly simple yet complex photo. It's a book that requires, no demands a second read, such is the complexity of the language. A creative writers dream.