Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Latest Read: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing (Volume 1: The Pox Party)
M.T. Anderson pushes the boundaries of disturbing, fictional settings. In his novel Feed, he pitches himself into a technologically-perverse future. In Octavian Nothing, the author visits the past--the slave trade in 18th century America.
Octavian is a boy who lives with his mother at the College of Lucidity, where his tutors investigate whether their black subject can learn a classical education as well as a white one. When the men aren't lavishing Octavian with Latin and violin lessons, they terrorize him. Deliberately-inflicted smallpox ravages Octavian's home. He rebels against his owners and flees. Octavian Nothing is a coming-of-age horror, a perverse moment in history set to fiction, and a treatise on subjugation.
At my local library, Octavian Nothing is filed under teen fiction, but anyone who can stand the pain will appreciate the antiquated language and powerful story.