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Book Review: Centuries of June by Keith Donohue

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Centuries of June by Keith Donohue is a fictional book where a man meet his past consorts. The book’s timeline is irrelevant since it compromises several unrelated tales which all have a common denominator.

A man wakes up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. Somehow he finds himself lying on the floor with a gashing wound in his head. Another man,  whom the man thinks might be his deceased father, appears.

One by one several women appear trying to kill the narrator, after which they sit and tell their life stories. Yes, we’re still in the bathroom.

Centuries of June by Keith Donohue is not an easy book to describe or categorize. The whole book takes place in a bathroom where a man meets his scorned wives and lovers from past lives, all of whom were unlucky in life, blaming him. With good reason.

Imagine the horror.

I found the book imaginative and funny, but I have a dark, sarcastic sense of humor which, by the way, my beloved wife (may she live a long life) hates. Each wife in the book tells a story which involves heartache, struggle, love and usually some sort of death. The one thing each story has in common is the narrator who is lying dying on the bathroom floor with a hole in his head.

Since each spouse tells a tale, the book moves between genres and times. Some of the stories are fantasy, urban myth, mythology or a folk tale – yet all the stories are entertaining and the characters are vivid. The author sprinkles humor around the macabre for good measure.

Centuries of June is peppered with references to other famous books – something which this bibliophile found amusing. It is a strange, unconventional book, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes confusing, and sometimes just plain crazy.

Somehow it all works – don’t ask me how.

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