Monday, August 01, 2011

What I've Been Up To...

Well friends, my holiday is over. It was a wonderful two weeks of fun and frivolity on the west coast of this awesome country of mine. Tomorrow begins a stint back at the ol' salt mines! However, in three weeks or so I have another week off, so….. all is not lost, regarding this summer.
As you can see in the above moment-in-time, I read even when I am floating around on the Pacific Ocean. That's me in the final stages of a terrific book, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, to the extent that it makes me interested in other books by this author. This one follows the adventures of an American missionary family as they find themselves in the Belgian Congo, [early '60's] trying to foist the Word of God on the people there. To put it mildly -- things do not exactly go favourably for their evangelistic efforts. Kingsolver tells the story in such a unique style, each chapter alternating between five narrators, [the mother and the four daughters]. Interestingly enough, the main reason they are all in Africa in the first place [the father, who is divinely "called" to be there] is not allowed a stint as narrator. According to the account of the rest of his family, he is one of the most mule-headed religionists I have ever heard of, in fiction or in real life. It is agonizing to read of his stubbornness. It is impossible to summarize such an epic, sweeping story -- but I'll let the words of two of the daughters approach a summation:
You can't just sashay into the jungle aiming to change it all over to the Christian style, without expecting the jungle to change you right back.
-- Rachel

There is not justice in this world. Father, forgive me wherever you are, but this world has brought one vile abomination after another down on the heads of the gentle, and I'll not live to see the meek inherit anything. What there is in this world. I think, is a tendency for human errors to level themselves like water throughout their sphere of influence. That's pretty much the whole of what I can say, looking back.
-- Leah
This is a book I would highly recommend to my Bookpuddle friends.

It is a rare thing for me to give up on a book, but I did so with the book that I picked up after the Kingsolver one. I actually regretted taking it along with me on my midnight flight home -- because I found that no matter how hard I tried, I just could not get into it.
And I had nothing else with me!
What Maisie Knew, by Henry James.
Rarely has a book resonated with me less than this one. It's right up there now in my list of Books That Blew©… alongside things like The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass, and similar ilk.
It's supposed to be the story of a young girl that is tossed about by conflicting parties in a really convoluted divorce case. I found that my devotion of a hundred pages of reading was very unrewarded. I had to put the book down and admit defeat. There was a profusion of characters that lost me.
I'm not a stranger to older novels [this one being published prior to the year 1900] but James kept using terminology that eluded me… things like the repeated use of "my companion" when I found it difficult to know who in the world he was referring to… and I mean, I recently read Thomas Hardy's The Trumpet-Major [published a decade or so before this book] and I found it excellent. So……….. not a keeper, this one.
Currently I am immersed in an outrageously good book by Francine Prose, called Goldengrove.
Don't you just love it when you stumble onto a book that draws you in?
I just wish I had taken this piece of "prose" with me on my airplane ride.
So, this is what I have been up to, lately.
Being severely lazy.
I hope I have not lost too many of my dear devoted readers by my absence from Bookpuddle blogging.
My wish for those of you who still check in here from time to time is that you enjoy the rest of this summer, reading, reading, and…. reading!



book junkie said...

Yes, 'The Poisonwood Bible' is a great book. Not sure if you finished it or still reading it. If you havent finished, you will love the closing para of the book. Kingsolver is talented, to say the least.

Stefanie said...

Poisonwood bible is a great read. You look so relaxed on your holiday. Hope it lasts the three weeks until you get another week off!