This isn’t a book, it’s a work of art.
Mhyana is not only an author, but an artist. Dreaming in Night Vision takes hold of the reader from the first page and clutches on until the last – all the while continuously weaving thickening layers of prose and poetry around the center story of this incredible woman.
Playful, Irreverent and Provocative
Dreaming in Night Vision is a hybrid work of poetry and prose that celebrates the adventures of a free spirited, unconventional military wife and mother struggling to find a balance between duty and self-hood.
But make no mistake: this is not a military story. This is a story of an unorthodox marriage that twists and turns when and where you least expect.
As the story opens, the drug addled, love drunk teens must navigate their way through minefields of homelessness, war, and the inevitable estrangement resulting from prolonged deployments.
The couple begin their marriage living in a broken down car with five cats in Albuquerque and end up, fifteen years later, living in an Elizabethan cottage in Oxfordshire, England — with stops in Japan, Germany and countless other European hot spots in between.
Eventually the couple comes to the realization that a romantic relationship is no longer feasible and must make difficult choices, defying social norms in order to keep their nuclear family intact.
They decide to seek other exclusive long term relationships, while co-parenting their children under the same roof. A long period of adjustment follows, during which they struggle with the conflicting emotions of possessiveness and selflessness.
Deliciously metaphorical and rich in whimsical anecdotes, Dreaming in Night Vision is quirky, entertaining and so visceral that readers become voyeurs.
Heart and mind spread across the naked pages…
So you know someone, then you read their heart and mind spread across the naked pages of a book like Dreaming in Night Vision and they become two people–or maybe the many splinters of a becoming-person proliferating and changing through verse, memoir, journal, and essay forms, spiralling through their book like a segmented strand of literary DNA.
The person is all there, right in front of you, but there’s too much of them to take in and hold together at once. We are so much more, always more, never whole because beyond solidity in time. Or maybe I will be able to merge them, to see and feel these words, images, scenes, associations, trials and tribulations, triumphs and joys, meditations and impressions in Jalina’s eyes from now on.
Or maybe it’s too much to ever grasp another person’s life entirely–or even our own–because of the vagaries of memory, thought, experience, and the brief solidity of the aesthetic word-artifacts we construct out of the fleeting material of thought and experience.
We are always becoming, so the proliferating fragments of a book like this can only mirror the human condition tied to time, and then free of it in the act of literary self-expression. (Yeah, I’m also currently reading Proust’s Time Regained so I can’t help but make the comparison. As the great Frenchman says, memory is two-fold: both in our control and entirely involuntary as well).
Few texts are as disarmingly naked and honest as Dreaming in Night Vision. Mhyana has a unique gift of thoughtfulness that never turns to self-defensive cleverness … but rather her associative intellect leads her writing through images, found objects, reflections and words to self-revelation, never obfuscation through the formal, intellectual posing the essay form usually promotes.
Even in the essays here there was sheer poetry, the song of the self, and the beauty of a mind at work …Also amazing here is the sheer bulk of seemingly fragmentary and self contained texts taking so many different strategies all coming together into a cohesive whole through Jalina’s particular sensibility without, as far as I could tell, a single misstep.
I must say I was against the very last section when I read that it was “Unedited Journal entries.” Perhaps because of my bias toward art and that aesthetic artifact, or the really laudable ability the essays and autobiographical passages had displayed up to that point by being so honest/raw and yet so intelligent/thoughtful at once, made me feel like these last passages would be a cop out of a sort, a little too raw, and would lower the whole of the book in my estimation. 4-5 pages later I found myself tearing up, then openly crying, really moved and–as I’ve said in another review already–that’s an instant 5-stars for me.
This is a great book not only because it does things with form I didn’t think possible, but because it’s a beautiful and moving expression of a shining human being.
An Emotional Journey…
Only a writer with exceptional talent can describe emotional suffering with such elegance. The bad decisions of youth become tragically beautiful with a powerful sense of nostalgia as we visit Jalina’s memories of the past. As a woman, I find her poetry to be poignant; her words are both ethereal and raw. A must read for anyone wishing to embark on a deeply emotional and moving journey.
Surprising and out of the ordinary
Everything about this book is a surprise, from the masterful mixture of poetry and prose to the amazing life experiences it narrates. Jalina Mhyana is a gifted painter of emotions using words and she does so with rare courage and honesty. I would highly recommend this book for readers who are looking for something unexpected and out of the ordinary. It can be nibbled and savored slowly or consumed quickly with great gusto, both offering an equally satisfying read.
Beautiful. Etched forever into my soul.
The author takes you on a rather wild ride as she and her husband grow together, and then drift apart. I admire this author, her strength and inner beauty, as well as her intricate mind. Her ability to turn words and images into art. I highly recommend this book!
Bravo for a stellar new book
Jalina is a gifted writer who never skips a beat when it comes to poignancy and sensitivity when dealing with the bonds people create in a lifetime.
Her writing is full of wonderful imagery, symbolism and figurative devices that make the reader swoon.
I love honesty, the pain, the joy, and the layers of skin that are peeled to get to the bones of what is real and important in one’s life.
Sterling work. Bravo.
Worth every page even if you don’t like poetry or memoirs.
Mhyana has led an incredibly interesting life. Not because of the choices she’s made (though she’s made some fascinating, terrible, and inspired choices that will make it impossible for you to put this book down) but because of the laser-like clarity with which she sees herself and the world around her.
This book overflows with all the beauty, inspiration, heartbreak, ugliness, fallibility, and ultimate lovability of humanity. If its poetry doesn’t touch you, the truth peeking out from behind the delicate veil of words Mhyana weaves will.
We should all be so graced with the gift of honesty that this young talented writer has. Far from merely entertaining, this book will make you love yourself more by following her naked and poignant example.
Now that you’ve read the Amazon reviews, why not read an excerpt?