Antoine Wilson’s Panorama City: Book Review

When one grows up insulated and with not much world experience, you would assume that the world will both be an oyster and possibly swallow that person whole at the same time.

I personally can’t say that is something I’ll ever get to experience. Seeing the world for the first time as an adult, since my parents starts making me my own man at a young age, I learned the appreciation at a young age as well. The not knowing what you have till it’s gone or once having it realizing it wasn’t what you wanted. That all came to me young, long before I ever had to consider it or worry about it. Not to say I faltered here or there, but luckily I’m also quite smart. Not to try and sound egotistical even, I have a good brain. I catch on quick, I know what’s happening, I’m aware of my surrounding.

Unlike some classic fictional characters who have been both locked in their own world and not very smart till the world hits them head on. The most notable of these of course would be Winston Groom’s Forrest Gump, but to completely use him as a reference to discuss Antoine Wilson‘s PANORAMA CITY would give its protagonist disservice.

Oppen Porter is definitely not the smartest guy in the world, he’s quite naive indeed and it takes him awhile to process things, but he’s not completely a lucky clueless fool. In a shirt time he experiences what to some would be years of experiences. Love, heartbreak, religious awakening, spirtual founding, job promotion, switching careers, oppression, new friends, old friends, losing friends, death. All in less than two months, two tumultuous exciting months that he relays to his unborn child through tapes.

This device of first person narrative through what could be conceived as transcripts is a clever way to get pulled into Oppen’s viewpoint while also feeling like a listener who knows that it is only one viewpoint. This is a theme of everything Oppen tells his future son though, varying viewpoints and how no one way is right or wrong, they just are.

Life in many ways always seems to work in circles, but not perfect circles. Circles with spikes and protraction. I was reminded of this throughout PANORAMA CITY and yet it also gave me a feeling of hope. Antoine Wilson’s wordplay and semblance of sentiment and wonderment through Oppen causes one to see the world with new, more open (slight pun intended) eyes and a desire to live life to its fullest whatever that means for ones self.

The book also really made me want a bicycle more than ever.

Here’s an original drawing of a bike by the author Antoine Wilson.

The preceding review was based off an advanced galley.
PANORAMA CITY by Antoine Wilson is scheduled to come out September 25, 2012 from Houghton Miflin Harcourt.

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