Name the Baby is a unique book. I’ve never read a book like Name the Baby. It is deep, insightful, fast and enlightening. The narrative is extremely rough, raw. It isn’t like the usual refined narratives, where the narrator is a refined person and speaks eloquently. The narrator here, also the lead character talks like a normal person. He uses cuz for because, ‘rents for parents etc. He’s an everyday boy wandering in life and the narrative reflects that. This makes him easy to relate to.
In every first person narrative, the problem is how do you fill the blank spaces? How does the character act or talk when he is alone, maybe the few minutes before sleep hits, or travelling from one place to another, or while watching a band perform. In a third person narrative, I feel there is an easier pass by talking about things no normal character would ever notice, like the flowing stream upon which there are orangish red leaves or a fight going on in the twenty fifth storey of an apartment high rise. No lead character would probably notice such things while walking down a street, so the blank spaces have to be filled by what the character sees or what he feels about things. And it is not necessary for either of these things to be interesting enough for the audience to read. So, how do you go about it?
Simple, if reading were as easy as writing. You let the lead character talk about things which further the unique narrative style and the depth of the character. You give layers and layers, while at the same time, keeping the conversations light. One mistake I’ve seen quite a few first person narrative stories do is they make every second of the character’s life intense. Every line spoken and read is powerful. Everything is important. Frankly speaking, I can’t even remember half the conversations the lead character made in Name the Baby. I distinctly remember the serious moments and the emotions surrounding them, but a lot of the less heavy moments will only come back on a re-read.
This is a quality very essential to a first person narrative. Because it’s not as though the lead character says stupid things in between the heavier things; he says sensible things there as well, but doesn’t stress on them too much. So you remember the essence, but maybe not the words and the scene. And I believe that’s important. A too intense read would not only take much longer to absorb the words, there is a greater chance of the reader becoming irritated by all the intensity.
Name the Baby keeps it light, and most of all, keeps it moving. It doesn’t sulk on one part and keeps on presenting to you knew environments and new aspects of the lead character and his reactions to it.
With the mix of the pace and the narrative, the book is fun to read. You go through it, enchanted by the character and the odd position he sees himself in and the way he reacts. But this enchantment only lasted till about 80% of the book.
Sad part is, this book could have been so much better, but it messed up; not because of a lapse in narrative, but because of the summary written at the back of the book. So many books are guilty of what this book has done. The back summary made the story up into something it was not and hence could not deliver on. It left the story on a suspenseful end, which made you think the last part 20% of the story would be entirely different, but of a particular theme.
The book set up amazing premises and characters in the first 80%. But the things which were promised by the summary were just not there. They weren’t a part of the book. You waited for it to happen, but it never did. That disenchanted me from the last portion of the book and made it a little disappointing.
Though still, Name the Baby by Mark Cirino is a book which a lot of people will love; because almost everyone will fall in love with the lead character and his predicament and what all he has to say. It’s an old book, First Edition in 1997. If you were to find this book somewhere, and feel the price is justified, you should absolutely give it a go.
In recent times, I’ve felt too disappointed by a lot of books for somehow being too cliched or derivative or having no impact once you finish it. But Name the Baby does leave a mark, and I guess that’s why I wrote this Book Recommendation instead of the other books I finished recently!