Young, C. Dale. “The Affliction: A Novel in Stories”, Four Way Books, 2018.
Dale Young’s “The Affliction” is a novel that is told in short stories that bring together people who are not want they seem to be. We meet Javier Castillo who was born with the ability to disappear; Rosa Blanco who sits in her small kitchen musing over a moment from the past over and over again and Leenck who is aware of his impending death, but no one is aware of him. These and other characters are the people who live quiet lives, the kind of people that we never hear about and rarely, if ever see. They now move forward in lyrical prose. They hide and their lack of visibility affects those who love them and those who fear them. Most of us live in the present and have knowledge of the past and thoughts about the future. Some are obsessive bout the past and in fear of the future and some just are in the present.
Stories like people in that we can take each differently and in many cases we do so based upon our own life experiences. In communities of marginalized people, the ability to disappear comes with the marginalization. Like the stories in which these characters appear, they are unpredictable and varied. Then we realize that the way we know people, is often through the stories we hear about them but what about those that we do not hear about? These are the people that C. Dale Young introduces us too and as he does, we take them in. The stories are linked and we are taken to visit places where, like I said, we ordinarily would not go. What is so beautiful here is that in reading these stories, we actually experience them and they are transformative. I want you to see that I make this claim without telling a word about any of the stories because I do not think it is fair to do so. I want the stories to affect you the way they have affected me as personal thoughts. Every person will find something in these stories to identify with or to even call his/her/their own.
Our memories of the past differ as they should since we do not share a personal past. My past, for example, includes personal experiences that I prefer to keep personal and yet that past can be haunting and it can also be beautiful. Most of us are unable to tell as story the way Young does here. These stories share history and heart and while set in the Latino community, they could be set anywhere and at anytime. In rereading what I have said here, I realize that on one hand I have not said much and on the other, perhaps I have said too much but that is what we, philosophers, do. It is my goal to get you to take a look at “The Affliction: and taste its glorious prose. I think that once you do, like Javier Castillo, you will disappear for a while as you read what is here. Do not expect to close the covers and walk away from the book. It will stay with you and you will consider and reconsider what you have read.