Saturday, March 5, 2016

Indie Book Corner: Moirae, by Mehreen Ahmed

A Well Written and Thought Provoking Tale With a Unique Writing Style

Moirae is a story with many themes running through its narrative.  There's the story of a young woman longing for her beloved, the tale of an imprisoned man longing for a better life, and the story of a woman and her child.  There are also other stories present and they all connect at various points as the characters all have a connection to the village of their childhoods.  Along the way each of the characters is met with the rigorous struggles of their harsh lives.

The story takes place in what I believe is a fictional place, though it at times feels real enough.  The conflicts definitely have real world connotations including the rift between the two fictional religions that drives much of the story's conflict.  What's strange though, is that there is mention of real world places in the story so it does share some geography and events with our world.  Much of Moirae reads like a commentary on real world issues so those without much knowledge in real geography may even mistake the Dravilands as a real place.

The story is written in a unique and strange style called "stream of consciousness." says of the style "Stream of consciousness, narrative technique in nondramatic fiction intended to render the flow of myriad impressions—visual, auditory, physical, associative, and subliminal—that impinge on the consciousness of an individual and form part of his awareness along with the trend of his rational thoughts"  I am not at all familiar with the style.  Moirae is my first foray into it.  There were two particular chapters near the beginning that featured no punctuation.  What seemed to separate one sentence from the next was capital letters.  It was confusing to say the least, but the brain is adaptable so after a while it did become easier to read.  I did not find much enjoyment from this sort of thing nor did it enhance the story in any way, for me at least.  It is an artistic choice though and so I respect the bold commitment to it.

Much of the content in the story was featured around this large extended family and it was a story that I enjoyed.  There was a lot of food for thought when it came to the topics of poverty, immigration, religious warfare, civil strife, crime, violence against women, and quite a few other topics.  I would say that Moirae is a tragedy.  Throughout there is a big look at the very human condition.  What does it mean to be poor in a place filled with strife and warring ideologies?  What does it mean to be thought of as a second class citizen?  All of this is handled in a fairly natural way and what stands out about many of these stories is the effect of hope.  For even when a situation seems at its most desperate and hopeless, these people persevere to face the next challenge.  There is also a strong tale about tortured motherhood and madness.  It adds an almost supernatural aspect to the story.  I found that to be my favorite POV of them all, though it makes the most use of the stream of consciousness style.

Now I'll express my criticisms for the story.  To me, it didn't feel personal enough.  I was never completely immersed in the story.  The narration style felt very distant and matter of fact.  It had the effect of reading like a much older book.  It didn't manage to reach at anything deep inside of me to truly connect me with characters like MD, Pontu, Tahu, and Nalia.  The characters and even many of the events fell flat to me because of plain narration and dialogue.  I think I could've enjoyed the style more if those aspects were more engaging.  I also found the timeline and POV jumping to be very distracting.  Most likely it's another aspect of the stream of consciousness writing style, but I didn't much care for it.  There was also some confusion on my part regarding the timeline and setting of the story.  I wasn't sure if it were modern day or if it had taken place in the past.  And since it was a fictional setting, I was always taken out of the story whenever a place in the real world was mentioned.  I had to google Dravilands just to make sure it wasn't a real place.

Regardless, once you give the story some time, it does start to make its point and the characters did grow on me, even those introduced later.  So I did have a good reading experience with Moirae.  For fans of the stream of consciousness style and those interested in books about the human condition, I think this one is a good read.  Try it out and let me know what you think of it in the comments below.

Belart Wright
Author of 2 Books, Worker of Minimum Wage, Avid Gamer, Thinker of Things, and Wannabe Warrior

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