Book review: Mosquitoes

Honesty hour This was a challenging read.

Those who have dabbled with William Faulkner know that his writing, although beautiful, is complicated and can be hard to follow. Laden with disrupted narrative, flourishing language, and several main characters to keep track of, Mosquitoes was no exception.

That being said, it was an interesting and satirical criticism of rich elite, and an analysis of the power plays between the wealthy and the not. The title of the novel serves as a description of a certain type of people - buzzing pretenders that sting and annoy those they prey upon. The story is set in New Orleans where one such pretender, a wealthy widow, has decided to host a four-day excursion on her private yacht. She considers herself a "patron of the arts" and so invites a handpicked collection of artists to join her, along with her curious niece and nephew.


The story is segmented into a prologue, the days spent on the boat, and an epilogue that details the lives of the characters after leaving the boat. The Prologue introduces all of the characters, starting with a scultor named Gordon (that many readers believe to be Faulkner's depiction of a true artist) and his bumbling attache, Mr. Taliaferro. Next we meet the widow herself, Mrs. Maurier, and her niece Pat. Gordon is the missing piece in Mrs. Maurier's circle of artistic company that she requires for her voyage, and so she is determined to convince him to join them. Soon enough we are introduced to the rest of these artists: Dawson Fairchild, Julius Kauffman, Eva Kauffman, Mark Frost, Dorothy Jameson, and also the non-artistic members of the company: Major Ayers, Josh, Jenny, Pete and David.

Mosquitoes is about the interplay between the socially adept and inept, the true artist and the pretender, and the agonizing torment of unrequited love.

All in all I found Mosquitoes to be a very different read compared to his later works like The Sound and the Fury, as it was only his second published novel.  But despite its complications I liked it much more. Faulkner manages to capture the experience of the human heart in all its stages: before it finds love (or knows that it needs it) as with Pat, its fascination with love in all its forms as with Jenny, and its terrible longing for a love not yet (perhaps never) found, as with Mr. Taliaferro.

"You don't commit suicide when you're disappointed in love, you write a book." - Mosquitoes, William Faulkner

The latest musical infatuation

The lovely voice of James Blake has lately had an exclusive monopoly on my Spotify playlists. His second album, Overgrown, won the UK Mercury Prize in 2013 (Alt-J won in 2012) as best album of the year. Blake's delicate vocals pair well with his electronic sound.  Overgrown contains wonderfully addicting tracks like "Retrograde", "Take A Fall For Me" and "Life Round Here" that will echo in your head for hours on end, the way only good songs can.