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avril 2008

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The What.

I finished this book tonight. Four hundred and fifty-odd pages that took me two weeks' worth of subway rides to finish.  I cried on the way to work reading it, and on the way home, having to turn the page down and collect myself after those ten minute spates of time. Take a deep breath, force this horrible, wonderful tale that is not a tale at all out of my head, and sit down at my desk, or walk home through the rain. I sat at my kitchen table and cried as I read the last few pages. When I came to the last paragraph, I shook reading Valentino's statement of purpose:
" I will tell stories to people who will listen and to people who don't want to listen, to people who seek me out and to those who run," he says, "All the while I will know that you are there. How can I pretend that you do not exist? It would be almost as impossible as you pretending that I do not exist." That last sentence made me feel like I'd been punched in the gut.

That is the point of this whole epic story, why Eggers took on the formidable task of laying aside his own idiosyncratic voice to play mouthpiece for this sad, angry, funny and staggeringly brave young man. Whose life is in no way unique, and yet through this book makes you aware that this story is uniquely his. This book makes it impossible for me to brush aside the rest of the world, because it makes this life, so different from my own, so personal. As every life is. The fact that by chance or fate this boy wandered, parentless and starving in the desert for fifteen years, while I lived in the two most influential cities of the most powerful country in the world.

And I think Eggers knows this too, perhaps better than anyone, being himself a kind of Lost Boy. And I think he knew when he wrote those final words that Valentino's tale, while shedding light on a larger issue,  echoed his same pain and anger he felt when he wrote, ending his own story all those years ago:

"I've been trying to show you this, just been trying to show you this--what the fuck does it take to show you motherfuckers, what does it fucking take what do you want how much do you want because I am willing and I'll stand before you and I'll raise my arms and give you my chest and throat and wait, and I've been so old for so long, for you, for you, I want it fast and right through me--Oh do it, do it you motherfuckers, do it do it you fuckers finally, finally, finally."