Perpetual Hell: A Memoir is my life story with a history lesson as a background for what I believe is a journey that began thousands of years before I was born.
I trace history back to ancient times before there was ever an America. Using historical events, I delve into the reality that has not only plagued African people but, all people of the world.
I don’t think being raised by and around whites usually has this kind of effect on people. It may have been my exposure to my real family that had some impact on how my thought processes developed over time. From an Army Brat to a foster child, I experienced two worlds. The white world and the black world in America. I wrote in a manner that would sear the pain of indignities I encountered into the mind of the reader. My passion pours out in my words. Finally, I hope to change the world with my writing. I use how whites make it clear to African Americans and anyone who is not white on the planet to send my message that is I use honesty.
What I love about reading in general, and about independent publishing in particular, is that you find unconventional or unorthodox works. Wendy Othello’s debut book is certainly unique, if not radical. I’ve never ready anything so raw and pure.
It’s like a stream-of-consciousness philosophical essay, but without the discipline. Her writing style is meandering, but the content is riveting. One of my favorite chapters is about her personal life. Although it’s a memoir, she only spends one long devastating chapter on her upbringing, her child abuse, addiction and other exploits, then returns intermittently to her past near the end.
But, about 59% through the book, I started to find the writing to go off the rails. That’s when I had set it aside. But I was determined to get through it, so after finishing the other two books I finally got back to Perpetual Hell. Othello comes at the reader directly, using the first person “you” so the reader is not sure if the subject of her resentment is a universal “you” or if she’s lumping you the reader in with those that hurt her.
Just when I had decided it was a disorganized first attempt at writing, she brought be back into her world. Her thoughts were fluid, witty, having an equal ease with rich vocabulary, as with colloquialism. The writing style also uses unorthodox methods like random lists or headings, or conjecturing without developing the idea or citing research, and even telling the reader to, “Look it up.”
The reader may want to give up on the book, but it would be a mistake. Around 69% through, she brings the reader to her overarching point, and it’s a doozy. Her sometimes rambling words seem as though she just wants to get her thoughts down. But then it starts to feel like code language, inviting you further into her world. She’s an educated world traveler, from tough origins, and mixes the vulgar with the urbane.
Most of her dichotomy comes from being born “dark African” but raised in middle class white society. She’s a survivor, her wise-old-man inner voice getting her out of many harrowing situations, which she portrays almost incidentally. “At some point I saw myself like Mr. Magoo, if you’re familiar with the old cartoon, a blind man trying to navigate in the real world alone. Somehow, he always escaped harm’s way.”
Although hurt and abused, she remains objective and empathetic to her antagonists, a sure sign that she has successfully made it through addiction recovery. “Empaths will never control the world or heal it. We are weak from the weight of the world on our shoulders.”
However, about 80% through the book, I once again found myself wondering where she was going and thought perhaps the passages of riveting theories and life experiences were lost again in meandering conjectures. Since I’m the first to post a review, I won’t give anything away and will instead focus on the fact this book makes you think, even if the author doesn’t always seem to have completely thought things through. It’s a study, an essay in its purest form, the word “essay” deriving from French meaning “To try.” It’s an effort at making sense of something completely outlandish. Our current world.
One clue into her code language is her choice of the words, “race” and “racism.” Personally, I prefer bigotry or ethnicity, believing that we humans are all of one race. However, soon I succumbed to her tantalizing point of view. In this time of political turmoil, literally on the brink of worldwide devastation, Othello succeeds in making you step back and, at least for a moment, look at things in such a radical perspective it almost gives the sense that none of this earthly chaos matters. “There is order in the universe and it will find you.”
This book could have benefited from more editing, proofreading and restructuring to build the story from her truly exceptional life experiences and origins, to how she arrived at her overarching theory, which, again, is radical. On the other hand, that might have upset the purity of this wild ride. – Taz-ManianWoman