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Chris Blocker

Literary snobbery and other thoughts by Chris Blocker

Larabi's Ox: Stories of Morocco

Larabi's Ox: Stories of Morocco - Tony Ardizzone, Tony Adizzone There is much to love in Tony Ardizzone's Larabi's Ox. Right away, I was captivated by the vibrant imagery the author had painted. I trusted his vision of Morocco and walked away feeling as I had visited there in one way or another. Further, I enjoyed the structure of the book: we're introduced to three characters whose lives briefly intersect, and then are taken down different paths with each one. (A large part of my appreciation for this format is likely that it is similar to the one I have chosen for my own book which I am currently writing, but the fact I chose that structure only further shows the value I place in it.) Throughout these shifts from character to character, Ardizzone periodically changes point-of-view, but does so in a way which is relevant and works overall.The characters themselves are interesting and likable (even when they're not). Aside from being Americans traveling abroad who are running from (or toward) something, they have little in common. Each has a unique voice which lends to the believability of the book as a whole. I wanted to follow these characters on their exploration of Morocco. Even with the most annoying of characters, Henry Goodson, I was able to sympathize and was therefore eager to follow him when he asked me to embark on a hopeless journey into the African desert.The only color lacking in this "tapestry of interwoven stories" was in the stories themselves. Many of the story lines were only mildly interesting. I wanted to know more of Sarah's backstory. I wanted to battle more of Peter's inner-demons. What they did on the streets of Morocco--while it was beautiful--became tiresome. And yet, in what seemed like an effort to not be tiresome, many of these stories reached too far and became unbelievable. Some of the stories, particularly "In the Garden of the Djinn," were quite surreal and didn't seem to fit with the rest of the collection. Others included a twist which seemed unlikely. Cut out the remainder of stories where you feel like you're just following a character around Morocco for no purpose other than to sight-see and there are only a couple stories left which really grab.Overall, Larabi's Ox was still an excellent book. With its beautiful interpretation of Morocco, it is a must for any reader with plans to visit the country.