Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Step right up

It's about relationships. It's about sex. It's about fetishes. It's about everyday people. It's about city life. It's about violence. It's about almost anything under the sun. That's what Jerzy Kosinski's National Book Award-winning work, Steps, is all about.

As I scan this slim fictional work, however, I realize that it's a challenge encapsulating the very feel of this book: sometimes hopeful, sometimes depressing, but never cloying. The stories are just a joy to read.

I bought Steps on a whim one weekend. I was early for an appointment and I didn't like the book that I had in my bag. For the life of me, I don't know the point of having a book I have no plans of reading in my bag. But anyway, there was I with an unwanted book.

When I bought it, I went to one of those trendy juice shops with their overpriced drinks. I plopped my fat ass in their comfy seats. And then I turned the first page of Steps. Several minutes later, I kept on looking at my watch, hoping that the person I'm meeting will run late. I didn't want to put the book down. I was on a stranglehold.

Don't you just love these little things—when the book you have no ideas about turns out to be one very satisfying read? And could it be true: that we're only 1 month into the new year and I've already found my best read for 2013? Maybe.

Steps is categorized as a novel. It didn't feel like it at times though, especially with the disconnected narratives found in the pages. But there seems to be a connecting thread to each story, as if Kosinski is weaving an intricate picture of humanity in its raw form. Some stories, like the one involving bestiality, may shock some readers. But it doesn't erase the fact that these scenarios can happen.

Kosinski's writing reminds me a lot of Hemingway; his sentences terse, and the paragraphs short. I love Papa Hemingway, so that's probably one of the reasons why I immediately became comfortable with Kosinski's writing. These gifted writers can say a lot in just a few words. And with the case of Steps, with its less than 200 pages, the writer spoke volumes.

Read this book if:
  1. You'll read anything that's won the National Book Award.
  2. You like writing that can range from poetic to visceral.
  3. You love wonderfully freaky stuff.


Overthinker Palaboy said...

Kasama na yan sa aking to buy list. Hahaha.

Louize Gonzales said...

Hello Peter!
Jzhun used to say: "if the book is meant for you, it will find its way to you." I guess this one found its way to you.

This post, however, reminds me that I have Kosinski's Cockpit on ebook for sometime now.

Peter S. said...

Hi, Overthinker Palaboy! Sulit na sulit sya!

Hello, Louize! That's a nice quote! Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I have this. Maybe I'll squeeze it in after I finish The Death of the Heart.

Regarding an early 2013 favorite nominee (heh), mine is Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. Similarly, the sentences are spare and bereft of adornments but instantly riveting. And that's why I'm going to bump Steps up the reading ladder (I felt a little wary about it because I had a couple of bad experiences with National Book Award winners).

Peter S. said...

Hi, Angus! Oh, you're gonna love Steps!

I haven't read a Carver though. Something to look forward to!

Jeane said...

I think I read a Kosinski book once. It was about a little boy wandering around homeless during a war and had some horrible and graphic and violent stuff going on. I found it very disturbing. Maybe that stuff does happen in real life, but I didn't want to picture it in my head so vividly.

Peter S. said...

Hi, Jeane! You got it! Yes, it's disturbing.