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Dreams of Speaking

In: English and Literature

Submitted By wozz
Words 1019
Pages 5
Author: Gail Jones
Title: Dreams of Speaking
Publisher: Vintage, 2007, Surrey (Great Britain)

Gail Jones is an Australian writer and academic. She was born in 1955 in Harvey, Australia. She is currently a professor at the University of Western Sydney.

Alice could be seen scribbling away, a cup of coffee before her , trying to render the world in prose, trying to unlock with words the complicated inside of things..."
(Jones, 2007, 47)

This quote is perfect to explain and even help picture what was going through Alice's mind. Poetry behind machines, technology and modernity in general. I decided to begin with it because this simple mix of words was what made me continue to read the book and it sums it up pretty well.

The first few chapters focus on Alice's childhood, her family and her love story with Stephen. Obviously, this was useful to give some insight about the main character's personality and background. In the middle of the text there are some parts where the story stops momentarily and some remarks are made by Mr. Sakamoto, Alice or the author herself. This happens throughout the book and it can help or difficult the task of reading it depending on the perspective. I found it interesting and annoying at the same time. Further ahead, she meets Mr. Sakamoto. An elderly man from Nagasaki. Now this is when the book really begins for me. He was writing a biography about Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the phone. They got along really fast. Too fast, in my opinion. Even taking into consideration Alice's loneliness after Stephen's departure. We are presented, later, with the story of Hiroshi Sakamoto's past. A man deeply afected by the chaos of war and the sorrow of death, which welcomed many of his loved ones to their graves. I liked the way Gail wrote this particular part. She was able to explain the unfortunate events of Mr. Sakamoto's life in a clear, yet sad, way. I feel like I wouldn't be able to take half of the "emotional beating" he took. Furthermore, she also included some typical Japanese elements like cherry blossoms and kimonos which, quite frankly, felt pleasing to imagine. Death appears again in this novel when a child Alice used to see near her home appears lifeless in the streets. She was strangely afected by this but with the help of Sakamoto, she pulls through the shock. I consider this an important moment for the consolidation of their friendship which grew steadily. The author, by intermediate of Mr. Sakamoto, gives us an enormous ammount of information about technological advances and different personalities that made them possible. From the Lumière brothers, passing by Bell, Hedy Lmarr, John Baird and so on. During her stay in Paris, Alice was comunicating with Norah, her sister, and Pat, her mother, every now and then. They traded letters and e-mails and she got news about her father, Fred, who was going through some minor operations. She also got some news about her sister who was having a hard time with the the infinite tasks that come with the blessing of having children. From my point of view, Norah was somewhat jealous of Alice's trip to Europe. Alice was pursuing her writing endeavor and Norah was full of responsabilities and had no time for her paintings. This contrast is rather relevant from my point of view. The tables looked turned as life finally smiled at the older sister instead of her younger counterpart. Even so, I felt like I was missing something at this point. There were clouds of negativity following Norah's words. The unnexpected friendship continued to demonstrate its strenght. After a dissapointing reunion with Clare, a women Mr. Sakamoto liked, he returned to Japan to see his uncle who was in the hospital. Alice told Hiroshi that she would visit him and, after some time, she flew to Asia. I loved the change of scenary that happened at this point. She traveled to Tokyo first. Already in Japan, Alice was overwhelmed with the speed, brightness and noise of her surroundings. The city was alive, people dressed well and time seemed to be as valuable as ever in the capital. I enjoyed the way Jones wrote about all this. So much, I even got a sudden urge to visit Tokyo! Drama struck. When she got to Nagasaki she discovered that her beloved friend was at the hospital after he had had a, possibly deadly, stroke. One of Sakamoto's daughters transmited the news with what I read as a cold, strange and calm speech.. I considered this a nice twist that was poorly executed. Needlessly to say, Alice felt miserable and lost. She made the decision of leaving as soon as she could and visit her family in Australia. Back to Australia, home for Alice, she is surprised by the sight of her sister. She looked fragile and pale. She was thin and weak. She, her younger sister, had cancer. Now this explained the strange tone used in the letters. Alice was once again thrown a dagger of sadness and wondered how and why Norah kept that from her. For the next days she awaited the innevitable call from Japan. And after she reunited with her lover from the past, which was about to be a father, she got the dark, terrible confirmation of Mr. Sakamoto's death. Talk about going downhill. When you think things couldn't get worse, Jones brings us yet another wonderfully chosen twist. And as so, Alice, after taking tests to check for her genetic susceptibility to breast cancer, found out that she was adopted. The novel then ends with Alice telling her sister about Mr. Sakamoto and their somewhat unusual friendship.

My evaluation:

I found the book quite interesting. The relationship between Alice and Mr. Sakamoto was intense and warm to read about. The feelings of the main character were described in a marvelous way and it really shows the twists and turns that life can have. I recommend the book for anyone who likes and values poetic metaphores and speeches.

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