Thursday, August 19, 2010

Every Lost Country

This is the third Steven Heighton novel I have read.
He does not stumble. Three-hit wonder!
For me as a reader, I need to feel that an author is in control of his story, and this is what I get with a Heighton book.
Often people will ask me what kind of books I like to read, and I used to hesitate, but I've learned that the answer is "Literature". When they ask me what I mean by that, I get positively nebulous. If I could adequately answer the question I would probably be writing literature!
The closest I have come to explaining it to myself is that literature is something that breathes beyond its own pages. When the covers are closed, a dialogue ensues. Especially if you are alone.

I have noted [elsewhere] how Heighton loves to pit his characters against the elements, I won't repeat myself here. They [his characters] battle nature, and in so doing, discover aspects of their own nature that they would have never known, otherwise.
Reviews can often say too much about the plot and I think that should be the dictionary definition of evil. But I think it's OK to say that this book takes place in Tibet/China.
The slash mark in between is so significant. It is a book about borders.
But not just between fractious nations.
In Every Lost Country, Heighton explores the borders between immediate and larger concerns.
Immediate, being those of personal safety and prosperity. And familial concerns.
Larger, being the safety and well-being of others -- those others we could just as easily avoid, or discard with impunity.
For Heighton's protagonist, Dr. Lewis Book, there is almost no such thing as this latter beast. He responds with his entire being to the needs that present themselves. This is exemplified when his ex-wife says over the phone at one point: "I know Lewis, when people are in trouble, there isn't a border."
In this novel, a lot of people are in trouble.
Lewis Book goes to Tibet with his teenage daughter, to be the doctor for tempestuous mountain-climber Wade Lawson, and his team. The expedition is quickly altered by the political [border] problems of the area.
Lewis makes a quick choice that radically alters the lives and deaths of many.
For the love of others -- others are saved, and lost.

I admit, I haven't always been completely sure of what literature is, or has been. But in this case, I'm quite confident that Steven Heighton knew. Knows.
And he gave it to us.
Could've kept it to himself, but he didn't. Ran into the bloodied snow with his supplies. The "Book" getting the better of him….
Get your own
--> HERE.

No comments: