to WANT is to be human

I picked up Daniel A. Olivas’ novel The Book of Want on a whim. The slim volume caught my eye and when I flipped through it and saw what appeared to be a variety of different genres rolled into one novel, I was intrigued.

Turns out I had good reason to be interested in this novel. It follows a group of somewhat intertwined characters through a short period of their lives, focusing in on their desires (as the title implies) throughout. These desires range from lovers to recognition to belonging, and everything in between. Perhaps the stage directions in the last section (yes, stage directions — the text ranges from prose fiction to metafictional interviews to drama to IM conversations…and more) say it best:

The audience should not assume that these characters represent anything but themselves. They are not archetypes, paradigms, or metaphors for anything beyond themselves. They want comfort, love, sex, good foot, etc. Nothing magic, there. Yes, Moisés professes to want killing to stop. Most people want that, to be sure. Not all, but most. In any event, Conchita and Moisés will continue to live their lives together, never marrying because neither needs to. Conchita will eventually die first, many years from now, making Moisés curse God for taking another woman from him. But this is normal, such anger when we lose someone we love. ¿No?

This idea of the universality of desire — coupled with the difference between wanting and needing — runs under the surface of many of the vignettes in Olivas’ work. The title is right on: this book is all about want. Being wanted, wanting, etc.

GOOD FOR: Lovers of experimental fiction, nosy readers who like to glimpse juicy bits of characters’ lives, people looking for an introspective experience.

BAD FOR: Anyone looking for light fiction, fans of conventional storylines, firm believers that the world is black and white (as opposed to shades of gray).

COMPATIBLE WITH: The People of Paper, So Far From God, and The Principles of Uncertainty.

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4 comments on “to WANT is to be human

  1. Daniel Olivas on said:

    Thank you so much for your kind comments regarding my little novel!

    • amjansen on said:

      I loved it! I’m really excited that you read and responded to my post — you’re the first author to do that on my blog! Thanks for reading. 🙂

  2. Daniel Olivas on said:

    That’s the magic of Google Alerts! I do appreciate it when readers express thoughtful opinions about my work. By the way, I was a guest author at Ohio State a few years ago, the guest of the Latinos Studies/English Departments (Prof. Frederick Aldama invited me). Loved my few days there…nice students and faculty, beautiful campus. Take care.

  3. Herbet Diano on said:

    By the way, I was a guest author at Ohio State a few years ago, the guest of the Latinos Studies/English Departments (Prof. Frederick Aldama invited me). Loved my few days there…nice students and faculty, beautiful campus. Take care.