Roy Kesey's riveting debut novel tells the story of John Segovia, an American historian who teaches English at a small university in Piura, on the desert coast of Peru. The narrative moves between John's obsessive search for his wife's killer and his attempts to build a new life for himself and his infant daughter. The storms of El Niño--three months of savage rains, insect plagues and collapsed bridges--and the ghosts of history that stalk the sands of the Sechura Desert give this novel the sweep of an epic tale. Throughout, Pacazo explores and celebrates the many ways in which we construct the stories we tell of ourselves and those we love. It gives living form to anger and fear and desire, to courage and kindness and strength, and in so doing confirms Roy Kesey as one of the most innovative and compelling American writers working today.
Pacazo was the January selection for The Rumpus Book Club where subscribers get the book a month before publication.This was also the first Rumpus book with a super cool "A Rumpus Book Club Selection of the Month" seal on it. It made us feel kind of important in the literacy world. Anyway, the book was 531 pages, but for some reason Goodreads had it listed as 400 pages. My main issue with this book was that I believe it should have been 400 pages. There were too many wasteful moments that could have been spent discussing other things, or taken out of the novel completely. Pacazo is about a man named, John Segovia, who 300 days ago lost his wife, Pilar, after she was raped, beaten and left for dead in a Peruvian desert. John is left heartbroken and angry and tries to deal with his pain while raising his 11 month old daughter, Mariángel. The last time he saw his wife, she was getting into a "taxista" (which is basically a Spanish taxi), headed to the market. The only thing John remembers about the taxista is the license plate which started with a "P" (ironically, the first letter of his wife's name), and ended with a 22 (her age). Wherever John goes he searches for the taxista with this license plate. I had the impression that we were going to suffer along with John. We would grieve with him, and watch how his grief turned into anger. But John is already angry, actually he's crazy and in chapter 1, kills a taxista driver with the license plate beginning with a P, and ending with a 22, who may or may not have killed his wife. We watch him go deeper and deeper into madness trying to find his wife's killer(s?). The interesting thing about this novel is Kesey weaves history into the plot. The beginning of the sentence he is talking about the present, and all of sudden, using a conjunctive jump, added Peruvian history. Being a history nerd, I enjoyed reading these bits, but I thought that sometimes it was too much, and would have much rather read about John and his struggles. This is a story about tragedy, love, language, regret, and revenge. It was a powerful story, and without giving anything a way, I enjoyed the ending, and as a reader, I received some closure and was left with hope. Overall, a good read. Oh, and if anyone is wondering what a Pacazo is, here is a picture of one: