Waiting for Bojangles

Olivier Bourdeaut, trans. from the French by Regan Kramer. Simon & Schuster, $25 (176p) ISBN 978-1-5011-4591-9
Bourdeaut’s debut, an international bestseller, is a wacky, melancholy tribute by a loving young son to his charmed life in the company of his eccentric parents. In his own words, and quoting diaries his father kept—each often falling into rhyming verse—the boy recalls his unconventional upbringing. His mother is beautiful and mad, and dances her way through his childhood. His father is indulgent and kind, giving up his job when his son is born and always telling “such beautiful lies for love.” The two met and married one night on a whim, and their life proceeds as a succession of parties and holidays, even after the boy’s birth. The narrator chronicles alcohol-fueled evenings, an old-fashioned turntable always playing Nina Simone’s “Mr. Bojangles,” sunlit weeks in Spain after being confronted by the taxman, and so many days late to school that the boy is simply allowed to stop going altogether. Their household is chaotic, and includes an exotic squawking crane and occasionally a famous senator (whom the father worked for). But the boy’s mother teeters on the brink of insanity, and sorrows fall on her “from somewhere very, very high.” When darkness threatens to overcome the intensity of light she has always thrown off, father and son go to great lengths to try to protect her. This fanciful love story, fraught with sadness, is a sweet meditation on the more unorthodox gifts that parents leave the children they cherish. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 01/15/2019
Release date: 03/19/2019
Genre: Fiction
Downloadable Audio - 176 pages - 978-1-5082-8045-3
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