Have you ever read something so poignant that it almost makes you angry? Angry that you can’t set words dancing melodically to a beautiful and evolving narrative the way this writer so effortlessly can? Surely, I’m not alone on this one . . . ? From the first paragraph of the first page of Shani Mootoo’s Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab, I was entranced by the beauty of her prose. Her carefully constructed unraveling of detail and fluid changing of time and perspective, conveying the complexity of relationships, identity, and change, is beautifully precise.
Jonathan has spent years searching for the once completely devoted mother who walked out on him before he turned ten. A Canadian writer struggling with his own conflicting emotions and troubled past, Jonathan tracks down his elusive mother in Trinidad, the place of her birth, only she is no longer the mother he once knew as Sid, but is now a soft-featured, ailing gentleman, by the name of Sydney. Through Sydney and Jonathan’s interwoven narratives, we come to see a beautiful yet unforgiving Trinidad and a progressive yet cold Canada and how both countries have served to form both men’s sense of family and self.
Though a lovely and haunting feminist and LGBTQ rights manifesto, Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab is no diatribe against men or even against those who would oppose same-sex marriages and transgender rights. It is so much more, namely a powerfully moving tribute to the lasting power of storytelling and the surprising and unpredictable nature of human emotion. It’s truly an excellent literary feat and a great story to get lost in!
*- I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.