“The Chatterboxes” by Nsununguli Mbo

I chose this book for review because I was interested in the premise. Many people have observed babies and wondered what was going on in their heads. This book gives us one answer to the question, and you will never look at a baby the same way again. So in that respect, the author has succeeded.

The premise is that some babies are born remembering “everything” — we’re never told exactly what that means — and pretend to be normal babies while they try to remember their baby days as they grow up. If you can follow that.

The main problem with this book is the difference between “realistic” and “real.” Babies live in a very repetitive world. Experience with younger children shows us that they are interested by simple things and tend to repeat them over and over. However, forcing adult readers to relive this experience, realistic though it may be, leads rapidly to boredom.

Also, there is far too much explaining. Explaining sleep. Explaining the operating system that is his metaphor for the software that drives the human brain. And most of all explaining again and yet again that he and his two cohorts were born after only three months in the womb and are in each other’s brains all the time.

Another technique this author uses that is difficult to succeed with is stream of consciousness. In one section we spend several pages of the story in the thoughts of Pacman, the recovering alcoholic, while he is experiencing a drug-induced coma. An interesting exercise, but it hardly moves the story forward.

To sum it up, this book attempts to give us a detailed idea of the inside of a baby’s mind as chaotic, unvarying and non-linear. It does this through writing that is likewise unfocused, repetitive and difficult to understand.

It is an interesting experiment that partially works. Recommended for fans of experimental literature.

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

About the Author: Gordon Long

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