Book Review: Centuries of June
By: Keith Donohue
Published by: Crown
Release Date: May 31, 2011
Source: hardback provided by publisher
Centuries of June is set in the bathroom of Jack's home. Jack finds himself dying on his bathroom floor and is visited by a trail of women who all have tales to weave for him. These tales take place over a course of time spanning from pre-Colombian times to present, including stories from the Salem witch trials, Southern Gothic, and Native American folklore and mythology. Jack begins inserting himself into the stories, and he finds that the women seem to be familiar to him. While the stories themselves seem to be unrelated, they are tied together in the end.
I was intrigued by the concept of Centuries of June from reading the synopsis. I am new to Keith Donohue's work, and that also drew me to the book as I am challenging myself to branch out and read new authors this year. While his writing is definitely not my usual style, I found Centuries of June to be well written and darkly humorous. The plot felt confusing at times, and although I found the stories told by the women to be entertaining, I found myself bored and distracted while reading. Personally, I would have preferred to read the women's stories as short stand-alone novellas. However, I am impressed by the creativity it took to weave the stories together in this manner. I did enjoy elements of the book, and if I'm 100% honest with myself, I'll admit that I most probably would have enjoyed Centuries of June more had I not been staring down a stack of must-read sequels to some of my most favorite books.
As a lover of books, I have to comment on how beautiful the book itself is. The cover is mysterious and alluring, the book feels good in the hand, and the pages are wonderful. They are thick, with roughened, uneven natural edges. (Yeah, I know - I'm a total geek, but I was so impressed with the look and feel of the actual book, I couldn't not comment on it! It's rare that I find a book that makes me want to open it just because of the beauty and feel of the pages.) You're laughing - I can tell. But seriously, it's a beautiful book!
Summary from Goodreads:
For fans of Nicholson Baker and David Mitchell, a multilayered, lively, and wholly original novel from bestselling author Keith Donohue.
Set in the bathroom of an old house just before dawn on a night in June, Centuries of June is a black comedy about a man who is attempting to tell the story of how he ended up on the floor with a hole in his head. But he keeps getting interrupted by a series of suspects--eight women lying in the bedroom just down the hall. Drawing from 500 years of myths and legends in America, Centuries of June is a stunning tour de force.