Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A little less veraciousness please

Dooley was placed over the Rainbow Bridge 2 weeks ago this Friday and I haven't felt like doing much sense.

But before that, my neighbor's husband, M., lent me, The World According to Garp by John S. Irving. M's words to me when it was placed in my hands were, "I think this is the most feminist of his books and possibly any male writer ever."

The dad, T.S. Garp, is conceived in a most unconventional way in a time when single-moms were heavily frowned upon. Garp never knew his father or how he came to be born until his mother's book was published when he was a young adult. Garp was very cocky and self-assured throughout his entire life, pissing people off with relative ease along the way. He was a writer and his eventual wife, Helen, was an English Professor. The book just goes around and around, with a 3rd voice interjecting pieces of the story, so you'll just have to read for yourself to know this book is a good one. It's hard to summarize because it's narrated, then 1st person, then narrated again, then 2nd person....it's a little crazy but all comes together in the end.

I really did like it though it was different in writing style and over all combination. The writing was superb and I'm all for a book where the writing is not only good, but the story as well. Descriptive writing, one that gets you to see what is being said, playing a movie inside your head, is best. Telling you what is going on just doesn't bode well for a book in my estimation because it doesn't lend credence to the author as a writer so much as a good story teller (case in point, The da Vinci Code).

Which brings me to the 2nd book I couldn't put down, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner. While it was a great story about 2 Afghan women and the tribulations of their life during the Russian invasion (then occupation), the rise of the Taliban and then finally, the US invasion accompanied with a slow rebuilding of Kabul and the surrounding areas, I think it was an even greater achievement because it was a story based on a woman's experiences but written by a man. I know we shouldn't give male authors props as they should be doing this sort of thing regardless of gender, but let us be realistic in the acknowledgement that society sets men and women apart from each other constantly and consistently, more so in other countries than in the U.S. Much of the 1st half of the book is setting the stage for the remainder of the story, causing some critics to state it's "hard to get through." But when you finish the last page, thus closing the book in careful thought, you realize each word was necessary. Well, almost each one.

Here is a book I wish used more descriptive language and flushed out pieces regarding thoughts/feelings of each character or using more than just simple color names (i.e. She put on a yellow and green scarf loosely....) or simple language in general to describe the area they lived. It wasn't until Laila, one of the main characters, went back to where Miriam lived almost a year after her death that we got to fully see the 1 room hut Miriam lived her first 15 years of life in.

But who knows, the book was long enough already so I'm sure it was twice as long before editors got a hold of the manuscript. I still highly recommend this book to everyone who is willing to read it, just as I highly recommend The Kite Runner as well. The fact that the story is based in Afghanistan should be even more of a push for people as it gives us Americans a taste of culture outside our own and hopefully a look into what it's like having the country you love to be torn apart by war for nearly 40 years and heavily destroyed in the process.

And on to the 3rd book that has since caught my attention to the point of not wanting to do anything else but read it: The Memory Keepers Daughter by Kim Edwards. This is a story set in Kentucky in the year 1964 when one winter night, 2 babies were born, twins; the boy was born *normal* and the girl was born with Down's Syndrome. The father, who delivered the babies in his partner's office (he's a orthopedic surgeon, his partner an OB/GYN) when they couldn't reach the hospital in time. The father, instantly recognizing the facial signs of Downs, tells the nurse who attended the births of the twins to take Phoebe away to an institution and when his wife asks about the 2nd child later, he informs her Phoebe had died during birth.

The nurse decides, after visiting said institution and seeing how the children/adults are handled there, to keep Phoebe for herself and raising her with love. She sells everything and moves to Ohio, far away from Kentucky and someone with the capability of finding her.

It's a really well written story that's captivating in its simplistic plotline because a dad, without a moment’s hesitation, opted to send his newborn daughter to an institution in order to save his wife the pain of losing their daughter later in life. Though he quickly finds out grief follows his wife no matter what because she thinks Phoebe was lost in childbirth. In flashbacks, we get to see how the father suffered after the loss of his sister, June, by what appears to be the same chromosomal disorder.

So yeah, a little less veraciousness please. (Especially since I have yet to finish the toe socks that needed to be done 2 Sunday's ago.)

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