Hmmm so I am the Hungry Reader. The one who reads. The one who is constantly reading or wanting to read constantly. This blog is all about the books I have read, the ones that I am reading and gems that I plan to read in the future or whenever it arrives.
Title: The Parking Lot Attendant
Author: Nafkote Tamirat
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: 5 Stars
The Parking Lot Attendant is such a weird book at times and maybe because of all its oddities it works brilliantly for the reader in so many places. The plot is this: An unnamed young woman (a lot of unnamed narrators or protagonists in books these days), who has just recently become a resident on the island of B with her father tells the story of how things came to be. Of why she and her father had to come to this Utopian styled community, leaving their home in Boston. That essentially is the crux of the story. No wait. There is more.
There is Ayale, the shady parking lot owner in his mid-thirties who the woman was attracted to while she was living in Boston. Their life as Ethiopians in Boston (this has to be mentioned. You will know why when you read the book). The book is about the woman and her relationship with Ayale, her father and how she has to flee the country with her father. I can’t give away any spoilers, but I guess you get the drift.
Tamirat’s writing is refreshing. It doesn’t mostly follow the linearity of time – things happen and jump from one time track to another, so it does take a lot to get into the book, but once you get the hang of the events, it is an easy ride. The story seems awkward but it is anything but that.
There is a lot going on – coming of age, the woman’s relationship with her father, the commune and its principles (will almost make you relate to the world we live in) and Ayale’s relationship with the woman (which is so twisted that you have to read it to believe it). “The Parking Lot Attendant” is engaging, stumbles at times, confusing as well, but redeems itself beautifully with the writing and characters. I loved it nonetheless.
I guess I have never enjoyed reading short stories as much as I enjoyed reading this collection by Premnath. Crowded Rooms is sure going to haunt me for a while and that too quite strongly if I may add. Why you ask? Well for one the 9 stories in this book are not your usual run-of-the-mill tales and second they have what it takes to make the reader ponder long after you have finished reading the book.
“Everyone seemed to be calling everyone and there was no explanation why”. Consider this line. It is simple and yet so stark. It defines the way we are living and yet so effectively. This is from the first story in the book “The Room with the Lamps” and is about Maya and her lamps and one crazy night in the city. About meaningless vandalism and how guilt makes people do senseless things – for no rhyme or reason.
It wasn’t a surprise to see and realize that every story was centred around and was about urban existence. About how we value our possessions and may be are so entwined in them that we fail to see life for what it is.
“Where were all the beautiful, people, the sunny beaches, the chatty hosts, the trees and the mountains?” This line is from the second story in the book, “TV is Good”, and is about an angry television that comes looking for his master who dared to turn him off. And another one of an Office Memo coming to life – dreamlike metaphors and holds such truths for our times. While in, “The Chronicles of a Saturday Evening” something unseemingly occurs that leads to to people coming close. One of the best stories in the entire collection.
The stories as the title suggests are about spaces – the ones that we inhabit and the ones that we forget to look or think about along the way. The stories encapsulate lives we have seemed to forgotten – the small joys and sometimes the small bites of pang that surface unexpectedly.