The Lost Book of Adana Moreau

  • Review
By – May 1, 2020

The Lost Book of Adana More­au may leave you feel­ing as though you have some­how read an entire library of sto­ries, each of which is dis­tinct and yet weaves seam­less­ly into the next. Author Michael Zapata’s sto­ry­telling style cap­tures the feel­ing of drift­ing on an ocean of voic­es, pro­pelled by the desire to hear and hon­or each one. The first char­ac­ter intro­duced is the Last Pirate of the New World, mak­ing it fit­ting that Zapata’s whole nar­ra­tive has an under­ly­ing feel of the rhythm of the ocean to it. The sto­ry is of a boy whose father is a pirate and whose moth­er is a Domini­can immi­grant, there is an unde­ni­able sense of real­i­ty and relata­bil­i­ty in this tale as Maxwell’s life echoes the clash of the old world and new world — seek­ing a sense of bal­ance and belonging.

Zap­a­ta has put great inten­tion into the sto­ries that are pre­sent­ed in this nov­el. Sto­ries told by var­i­ous immi­grant char­ac­ters all echo with com­mon feel­ings of dis­place­ment, uncer­tain­ty, and hope. There is the under­ly­ing sense of bat­ed breath, of know­ing that the world is going to change — vio­lent­ly and sud­den­ly. These feel­ings man­i­fest again a gen­er­a­tion or two lat­er when the char­ac­ter of Saul opens him­self up to the sto­ries of those around him, most espe­cial­ly those told by his good friend and sto­ry-seek­er of his own, Javier. Saul and Javier’s jour­ney par­al­lels a jour­ney tak­en decades ear­li­er by Maxwell More­au, and these quests are inter­wo­ven with each oth­er through­out the book, pulling the read­er in deep­er, and leav­ing the near­ly-arbi­trary frame­work of time far away.

Like the pull of the ocean itself, each char­ac­ter beck­ons the read­er to come clos­er and to lis­ten. Mem­o­ry is a grav­i­ta­tion­al force” explains a bus pas­sen­ger dur­ing an inter­view; this feels espe­cial­ly poignant for Javier, whose life goals seems to be pre­serv­ing sto­ries, and to Saul, who starts to appre­ci­ate sto­ry­telling after the death of his grandfather.

Each char­ac­ter the read­er inter­acts with is like a por­tal to anoth­er world, which res­onates with the ideas in Adana Moreau’s orig­i­nal book, pre­sent­ed as a mas­ter­piece that has yet to be grant­ed the fame it deserves. Her lost man­u­script is a dri­ving force, bring­ing togeth­er those whose lives had grown apart, and the sto­ries cre­at­ed fol­low­ing this reunion. Zapata’s trance-like sto­ry­telling real­ly does make one ques­tion if there could be par­al­lel worlds, and makes the read­er con­tem­plate these infi­nite pos­si­ble worlds.

Rebec­ca Zaret­sky works at a syn­a­gogue as the Youth & Fam­i­ly Edu­ca­tion & Pro­gram Coor­di­na­tor. She has a Bachelor’s degree in the study of Human­i­ties, pri­mar­i­ly visu­al arts and literature.

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