Imaginative look at self abasement
Jonathan Dee, 2022
I just finished reading Sugar Street, a thought provoking imaginative reflection on self abasement. In the initial chapters I was frustrated by the main character's lack of intelligent adaptive coping. I think most people could do a better job of disappearing with $168,000, but perhaps I'm wrong. But then I realized he's not trying to prevail, or survive; he's wrestling with the problem of how to strip himself of identity without becoming overtly crazy, an intriguing challenge re which several spiritual traditions have much to say. However, he lacks the spiritual urge, the sense of opening oneself to the unknown which accompanies the loss of markers of self, perhaps because he needs to erase himself rather than just let go.
What I like most about the main character is his contradictions: he wants to survive, at least for awhile, and be nothing, and express his deep political loathing, and ( despite himself) express his ineradicable sense of significance. Ending his life with a murder of a judge he's never met and knows nothing about is a political cliché for white America in free fall, but does not do justice to the theme of identity loss. This s a deep rich theme you are mining, but you've only scratched the surface of a vast subject.
Sugar Street is a fascinating intriguing novel, the title of which suggests bitter comeuppance, but which hints at true sweetness - there's the pity. Thanks for the novel. it's memorable.
-- Dee Wilson