I had lowered my expectations for this novel, as per Jon’s request, but I have honestly found it easier to read than Bless Me Ultima or Gregorio Cortez. Particularly, I have found the style of writing quite interesting. It is seemingly uninteresting and anticlimactic – there are no names for the characters (which I have not figured out why yet), the dialogue is rather dry and the conflicts we’ve seen so far are anti-dramatic. Instead, it is written in a self-reflexive nature, where Luiselli’s thoughts turn in and upon themselves. In fact it seems that the book is written in such a way that is analogous to comparing a movie with a documentary; while a movie is full of action and expression and music that enhances every scene, a documentary is raw, dry and simply following the actions of the characters with no embellishments. I somewhat appreciate this about Luiselli’s writing, because it makes the events seem real and untainted. Moreover, like a documentary, Luiselli’s writing envelops the reader in such a way that it seems we are there with them I their 1996 Volvo wagon. That we are there as they drive across the country and make their pit stops to eat and drink and sleep.
The title is also very intriguing… the meaning and purpose of it seems to be unravelling slowly as the novel goes on. For starters, the husband, wife and kids had brought archives with them – the boxes of books and audio recordings in their trunk – and they are attempting to find new material to add. However, the “lost children” part remains more mysterious. We do, however, have some idea thanks to the wife helping Manuela get her daughters into America. (I am realizing now that other characters have names while the main family does not, why is that?). When Manuela calls to say that they had lost their case and the girls have disappeared somewhere between New Mexico and Arizona, it seems that Luiselli had an ah-ha moment that her novel must be for “the children who are missing, those whose voices can no longer be heard because they are, possible forever, lost”. I think that this is such an intriguing way to write, because it seems as though we were brought on Luiselli’s journey to find her purpose and her passion. It seems as though we were included in the process of writing this book, as well as included in discovering the the how, why and for whom it was written.