The Kid and the Floating Feather in Forrest Gump
“It’s warm under the covers, smell good like Rita and like clean sheets. I curl up tighter, squeeze my eyes shut, and go back to sleep.” That’s my favorite sentence from The Kid by Sapphire. That sentence made me feel like it was Saturday morning, and I was under those sheets, relishing in the cocoon of safety. This is actually the first sentence in The Kid, and to me, one of the few sentences of true reality.
This book was difficult for me to read because of two reasons. The first reason was that the book depicts very graphic, sexual scenes. I was aware of this before reading the book, and so I was overall prepared. The second reason this book was difficult for me to read was that it is written in a free form conscious (and sometimes questionably unconscious) stream of thought from the main character, Abdul -- also called J.J. and a variety of other names adding to the mounting confusion. You only know what’s happening in the story through Abdul’s mind, and Abdul’s mind is neither clear nor concise nor based in reality most of the time.
Moving through Abdul’s mind means you’re taken on paths of his reckoning, reasoning, imagined information and actions and perceptions of reality. Often while reading, I would stop and think, "Wait, did that just really happen, or was he just thinking that." I found that very distracting and disconcerting. It did matter to the story what he perceived to be reality, whether it was or it wasn’t, but the flow from real facts to his pretend world was taxing on me as a reader.
As if this written form of indiscernible reality wasn’t shaky enough, each section of book places the reader in a different time period of Abdul’s life. Then, you’re forced to catch up with the elapsed time through the questionable reality of Abdul’s mind.
As I pushed through the book, I kept thinking that all the confusion, tragic events and labored reading would bring me to a redemptive end. It did not. I found that the book ended just as confusing and uncomfortable as it began. I’m not sure what I was to learn from Abdul. I found him to be a lost and forgotten person in a terribly cruel world. His character reminded me of the floating feather in the famous scene from Forrest Gump. The feather just floats around through several surrounding, lighting shortly here and there. Abdul was like that in this book, but in the end you were left with the feather still up in the air, with no idea where it would light next.