Myths of a Merciful God
When you hit a dead end, the best — and only — solution is often to veer onto a whole new road. Cynthia Ceilán’s moving new novel Myths of a merciful God, opens on a grim, harrowing dead-end, full of dark corners and eerie shadows, as Sarah wakes up to a world her young daughter has been snatched from. Only one solution, indeed: hit the road. To the ocean, Sarah decides. Indeed, nothing smaller than the infinite ocean can fill the abyssal emptiness left by the loss of a child. Ceilán’s nimble, delicate sentences trail on like the shiny roads that glow in front of Sarah. Sarah’s horizon is blue, ours is white: the whiteness of the next page we burn to turn, taking a new turn as Sarah swerves the wheel right or left. And with Sarah, we discover the world seen from the hobo’s eyes: a spindrift universe of precarious stop-by diners and hotels, of encounters condemned to be short and futureless. This story is that of a woman who refuses to start a new story, and who instead chooses the road as her story.
Nevertheless, the faces and the places are so far from being blurred by the rush of Sarah’s race across the country, they come out acute and vivid, like pictures taken with a high-definition camera. Neither do they lack profundity, in spite of their brevity. Short, but sweet, is the saying. Here, it could very well be “short, but deep.” Ceilán’s novel is a warm, hopeful portrait of the human race, a real kaleidoscope of hearts and souls, with its inevitable set of black sheep and unredeemable idiots that never outshine the shimmering set of true diamonds Sarah opens her mourning eyes to. With each swerve of the wheel, a new face, grinning or frowning, understanding or perplexed, glowing with its own dreams and joys, lined by its own worries and grief, till at last Sarah finds the right face.
Overseeing this expedition against the irreducible, angering injustice of an innocent death is the watchful —potentially absent? — eye of a “merciful” God. “Merciful?” Really? A lingering doubt weighs upon our minds as upon Sarah’s. God, if only there is such a thing, seems to be more like a clumsy child, recklessly shattering precious, fragile lives as he plays around with the glass ball of our world. But keep on reading, for this novel is so far from stopping at the apparent absurd meaninglessness of life: between Ceilán’s modest and pure lines lie a few very important answers to a few very important questions. If God is indeed that innocent child, whose ham-handedness hits us haphazardly, he is nonetheless well-mannered and always apologizes and makes up, some way or another, for his clumsiness. And let us forget, just for the few soothing hours Ceilán offers us that this is “only” a novel and that God in “real life” is not as well-behaved…
A book that you will open with a tear of sad compassion and close with a tear of warm joy. Between the two, just let Cynthia Ceilán’s shining river of flowing words guide you…
|Little Feather Books, Inc.
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