The Character of Rain: A Novel Review

The Character of Rain: A Novel
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The Character of Rain: A Novel Review"In the beginning was nothing, and this nothing had neither form not substance -it was nothing other than what it was." I read the opening sentence of Amélie Nothomb's, The Character of Rain (Métaphysique des Tubes), and was hooked. I was not disappointed. Using a Japanese belief that children are gods until age 3, at which time they fall and become human Nothomb constructs a brilliant study of infancy. Deeply autobiographical, like all her work, and deeply philosophical, like all her work, what amazed me most was how completely she captured or imagined the self-preoccupation that is early childhood. Any child will believe it is the center of the universe (and why not an infant must be watched and waited on), and yet the same child will experience "the fall," the recognition that he or she is not a god, is not the center of the universe. Nothomb's ability to recognize this essential problem of being a child and tease out of her own experience the joys and pains of existence in a way that is as imminently and entertainingly readable as it is philosophical is where her genius lies. I've never read anything like it.The Character of Rain: A Novel OverviewThe Japanese believe that until the age of three, children, whether Japanese or not, are gods, each one an okosama, or "lord child." On their third birthday they fall from grace and join the rest of the human race. In Amelie Nothomb's new novel, The Character of Rain, we learn that divinity is a difficult thing from which to recover, particularly if, like the child in this story, you have spent the first tow and a half years of life in a nearly vegetative state."I remember everything that happened to me after the age of two and one-half," the narrator tells us. She means this literally. Once jolted out of her plant-like , tube-like trance (to the ecstatic relief of her concerned parents), the child bursts into existence, absorbing everything that Japan, where her father works as a diplomat, has to offer. Life is an unfolding pageant of delight and danger, a ceaseless exploration of pleasure and the limits of power. Most wondrous of all is the discovery of water: oceans, seas, pools, puddles, streams, ponds, and, perhaps most of all, rain-one meaning of the Japanese character for her name. Hers is an amphibious life.The Character of Rain evokes the hilarity, terror, and sanctity of childhood. As she did in the award-winning, international bestesller Fear and Trembling, Nothomb grounds the novel in the outlines of her experiences in Japan, but the self-portrait that emerges from these pages is hauntingly universal. Amelie Nothomb's novels are unforgettable immersion experiences, leaving you both holding your breath with admiration, your lungs aching, and longing for more.

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