My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Ebook, 173 pages
Published November 4th 2011 by Storm Moon Press
(first published November 2nd 2011)
ISBN 1937058174 (ISBN13: 9781937058173)
No spoilers -- Just some quotes.
Go look this up before reading this book:
"What's my name, Ernie?" -------------------- Muhammad Ali to Ernie Tyrell
**** I feel it is important to note that you do not need to be a boxing fan or aficionado to understand and ultimately love this book. Voinov carefully places you into this world and guides you effortlessly, so, the experience is completely full, rich and most of all, enlightening.
Walls closing in with no way to escape, is a feeling that penetrates throughout this story. Voinov's tight writing and hard hitting peak in this book, leaving a lasting impact.
We see our own, familiar world, with some slight changes to the rules, through Brooklyn's eyes. He is a man who has known freedom and has lost it. He is forced to tolerate confinement, humiliation, pain, torture, sexual abuse and worst of all, loss of self. Brooklyn is a slave.
"Okay, so slavery sometimes fucks up freemen, too."
Nathaniel, the smooth, educated, wealthy gentleman is the only one, who it seems, knows there is more to Brooklyn than being a slave. Nathaniel appears to be perfect, but as is typical for Voinov, that would be too easy.
Although this story comes to us through Brooklyn, the secondary characters are vivid. They range from likeable to hated. Watching Voinov paint such depth into these characters is fascinating. A writer could easily let his novel rest on the strength of his primary players, but not Voinov, he develops them to extract a full range of emotion from the reader.
As a reader it is hard to know what is worse; Brooklyn's sentence or his self-imprisonment. He knows he is still a man with values and worth but he also feels that he can never pay for his crimes. This would be easy to accept if you were certain that he deserved his punishment. The nagging feeling that eats at the pit of your stomach just grows and grows until you think both Brooklyn and yourself are going to burst. Then he does. And so do you.
This book could be read for the pure intent of enjoying a tense ride. There is, however, so much more here. A lesson. Do I dare compare this with the despair and hope in a book as epic as Uncle Tom's Cabin? I do. The message is no less important now than it was in 1852. Or in 1967 when Muhammad Ali demanded to be acknowledged. Powerful writing, powerful message, powerful characters. Easily comparable.
"Fight like a man or die like a slave."
In a word, exceptional.
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