Books 1/4/04

A follow up to my comments about Namedropper – I was right about the language of the book being specific to the main character of the book. I picked up Emma Forrest’s next book Thin Skin – the language is completely different. Still enjoyable, but not with the magical quality of Vida’s voice. While I was kind of disappointed since I wanted more of that voice, I’m impressed that Forrest has another style, that her characters speak for themselves- it just makes me love Vida more for her uniqueness. Ruby, the main character of Thin Skin isn’t overly loveable and doesn’t want to be, so having her speak the same way as Vida, who is secure in her individuality would just be wrong.

I finished An Invisible Sign of My Own by Aimee Bender yesterday, and enjoyed it- but ended it feeling disconcerted. I think it was a combination of things- the first being that I’ve been having strange dreams lately that I wake up in the middle of feeling disconcerted because they were so real, and this was a similar feeling. The story is just odd enough, and the writing such that when I finished it I felt like I was waking up from one of those dreams, and the transition back to “waking” life was weird. Thats a positive though- it thoroughly sucked me in.
The second is a difficulty I have with the ending of the novel. One of the themes of the book is family members taking on suffering because one family member hurts or is sick. If one is sick, all must be sick, in order (as is told in a fairy story) that none of them have to die. Because of this philosophy, the main character Mona has taken up various superstitions and self punishments, as has a little girl in her math class. At the end of the book Mona decides that she can’t continue to do it, that her suffering doesn’t help her father at all, or have any impact on whether or not he lives or dies of his mysterious disease. One of her self punishments-eating soap- is overcome with a bit of struggle, and that gives her the strength to realize that she needs to move past her other hangups as well, but theres no indication of how she’s gonna do that, just the impression that she already has somehow. That just doesn’t work for me. You don’t go through however many years of compulsively knocking on wood to keep everyone you know safe and alive and then just stop one day. And thats what seems to happen. Maybe thats not the way it was intended. Maybe I need to reread it. But it left me a little off.
That said however, I did enjoy it. Well written, very convincing if very odd characters, but odd in a completely believable way. And it made me look at math differently, and slightly begin to understand those people who depend on math to order the world rather than stories. But only slightly- math is still evil.

Current Reading: Tommy’s Tale by Alan Cumming

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