In her novel, Where Am I?, Benvinda Marques explores the moral wilderness of a businessman who equates sexual performance with power.
James, the novel’s protagonist, moves from one affair to another in a never-ending attempt to satisfy his needs. In his pursuit of sexual conquest, he loses connection with his wife and fails to recognize opportunities to improve the welfare of his employees.
His quest for sexual gratification is brought up short when he is diagnosed with penile cancer. During his treatment and adjustment period, James learns to reorient his thinking and to consider a more spiritual path. He is helped in this transition by his friend, Nicoletta, who encourages him to meditate and to tap into “a continuous progress of awareness as to [sic] connect with the essence of being.”
Marques is a member of the Theosophical Society, and it is evident that she aims for readers to use Where Am I? as a tool to reach higher consciousness. It is perhaps this focus on the message of her novel, however, that causes Marques to neglect the narrative structure in essential areas.
Most of Marques’ novel is composed of dialogue that is unsupported by the necessary grounding of character and scene description. For instance, James summons John, an employee, into his office, but the author does not tell the reader what John looks like or give the reader any sense of the office environment.
The author also fails to provide the reader with the transitions that would allow him to move smoothly from one place and time to another. With each change of dialogue, readers must struggle to find their footing in the midst of the characters’ conversation. In addition, the novel is rife with malapropisms and tense agreement issues. Athough the author is clearly well intentioned, Where Am I? requires a careful rewrite to attract an audience.
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