Book Rec: My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due

Tomorrow, some people may feel deja vu if they check on the Something Printed blog as I'll be writing on the same book tomorrow for Cannonball Read. It will be a different article, and I'll try to focus on different aspects of the text. Book Rec: My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due If I had a nickel for every second coming/Jesus-connected mystery/suspense/thriller novel, I'd probably be able to upgrade my Netflix plan, at the very least. It's hard to find a novel in this vein that does something particularly different. Leave it to weird fiction enthusiast Tananarive Due to really push the boundaries. In a strange way, My Soul to Keep might have more in common with vampire and Gothic fiction than it does with the aforementioned shallow pool of fiction. It does concern an immortal, currently named David, living with his mortal wife Jessica and daughter Kira in Florida. The ritual that made him immortal involved a small supply of Christ's blood used by a powerful man to allow him to gain knowledge no other man should have. The Garden of Eden parallel is intentional, though the morality of disobedience is not. Due places an atheist immortal in love with a devout Christian woman that considers her husband's belief structure as his only weakness. Jessica believes that God has a greater purpose for her relationship with her husband and hopes above all else that his salvation is the goal. As a smart counterpoint, Due constantly has David wondering why his wife could believe in what he considers a ridiculous notion, for if God were real then the suffering he witnessed would not exist and he and his group would never have been able to grab immortality. It's a tiny struggle that blossoms into a very strained undertone in their relationship. It enhances the text and makes the fanciful elements seem more realistic. The writing is exquisite. I've long considered myself a fan of Due's short fiction. It frequently makes appearances in Best of the Year compilations and never fails to impress. She writes about strange subject matter in a beautiful and believable way, but sometimes seems a bit esoteric in her choices. Due clearly knows what she's doing. It's just her short texts take a lot of digging to get to the tightly coiled purpose. When given free reign over a longer piece, like My Soul to Keep, Due blew away every expectation I had of her. She wrote a bizarre, suspenseful, at times terrifying story that also felt more realistic and better executed than many equally acclaimed works of literary fiction. I cannot recommend this novel strongly enough. Borrow it from your library if you either never read it before or haven't read it since it came out. I know I'll be revisiting this as soon as I finish the Cannonball Read challenge.

Labels: book rec