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What We Are

Peter Nathaniel Malae, Author
Peter Nathaniel Malae, Author . Grove $24 (383p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1907-0
Reviewed on: 11/23/2009
Release date: 03/01/2010
Ebook - 400 pages - 978-0-8021-9799-3
Paperback - 383 pages - 978-0-8021-4522-2
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Malae's debut novel (after the collection Teach the Free Man ) is a high energy rant narrated by a half-Samoan/half-white drifter trying to survive in a world bent on marginalizing seekers of truth and integrity. Malae's antihero, Paul Tusifale, an ex-con and poet, wanders the dark corners of Silicon Valley like a corrosive Midas, ruining everything he comes in contact with, whether it's a civil rights march or a wealthy patron's poetry fellowship. Paul's voice is filled with anger and intelligence, and though his rants can come off preachy byproducts of his moral superiority and self-imposed martyrdom, when he backs away from smart-ass comments, superior glares, and Shakespearean quotes, his toughness transforms into a heartbreaking shield against futility, and he becomes a man with an idea on how to save us all. The novel's at its strongest during these moments, bearing a message that in the face of the madness of the modern world, the most important thing is to know yourself and to hold onto that at whatever cost. It's got rough patches, but the voice is gold. (Mar.)

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