( Elisabetta A. Villa, Getty Images / February 1, 2013 )
Jamaica Kincaid's new book is soon to arrive at my doorstep in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I've read and heard bits and pieces of it over the last two years. Finally, I can read it to determine how the autobiographical influences the telling of her story. The first review I encounter comments on this very same issue. How do you read this book? Is it possible to read it as fiction or does Kincaid's life come into the story so much that the autobiographical begins to tell its own story?
Notice Hector Tobar's ,( Los Angeles Times) comments:
(February 1, 2013, 4:00 a.m.)
"There are two ways to read Jamaica Kincaid's mesmerizing new novel, See Now Then. The first is the way any work of art should be read: by simply absorbing what's on the page. This is how I read the first two-thirds of See Now Then."
See Now Then
Farrar, Straus and Giroux: 192 pp., $24
It becomes impossible to avoid the personal life story of Kincaid during his well-intended reading: READ AS ART.
Tobar who has little knowledge about Kincaid's personal life but he becomes too tempted to verify details and consequently, does some research and reports on the findings. His research changes the reading from simply ART to Art -Influenced-Autobiography and it completely changes the meaning of her work. He writes that "All of this is relevant because Kincaid, the author of more than a dozen books, is a public literary figure. And seen through the lens of some basic but widely known facts of her life, reading "See Now Then" becomes quite a different experience." Similarities about the physical appearance of Mrs. Sweet to Kincaid and Mr. Sweet to her former husband, Allen Shawn begin to create another layer of meaning in the work- it begins to feel "uncomfortably voyeuristic" as he reads. I await the arrival of my copy and my own sneak peek into Jamaica Kincaid's life.