Ondaatje

Ondaatje's books echo each other, so rereading them is a curiously deep and wide experience. Anna in Divisadero says: "We live permanently in the recurrence of our own stories." Here are some echoes and notes.

Names in The English Patient: Hana, Clara, Kip. Names in Divisadero: Anna, Claire, Coop. Anna and Hana also chime with Anil from Anil's Ghost.

Kip is a Sikh, a group that has a "mystical affinity for machines." Coop prefers metal to wood: "all those varieties and modes of metal life." Kip is a sapper, dismantling bombs. Coop "loved risk and could be passive around danger."

When Coop loses his memory after being tortured, Claire pretends to be Anna. Anil buys her brother's name for "one hundred saved rupees, a pen set he had been eyeing for some time, a tin of fifty Gold Leaf cigarettes she had found, and a sexual favor." In Divisadero, Roman and Marie-Neige pretend to be brother and sister. "A family keeps its secrets," notes Anna.

Coop is tortured in Divisadero. Caravaggio is tortured in The English Patient.

Both Caravaggio and Rafael's thief father find their wives during or in the aftermath of robberies.

In The English Patient, Kip subsists on raw vegetables and herbs. In Divisadero, Rafael always seems to have raw herbs about him.

In Divisadero, Anna brings soap with her "from another world." In Running in the Family, a boar steals Ondaatje's Pear's soap which he has carried through the filthy hotels of Africa.

Kip and Coop both refuse drugs.

Caravaggio and Rafael are both named for Italian painters.

In Coming Through Slaughter, Buddy Bolden smacks and shatters a window pane. In Divisadero, Anna shoves a triangle of glass into her father's shoulder. Later in Divisadero, Lucien receives a splinter of glass in his eye.