Thursday, August 28, 2008

My book club thoughts...

I guess I have been busy reading, just not posting about it. (By the way, my next post will also be about books.)

The Gathering by Anne Enright was read as the result of my early month book club. Our leader decided that it was time to read a book from the Irish genre. Ironically, I didn’t know that there was anything of the sort. But, I was up for anything and after hearing the synopsis we decided that we had to read it!

“A dazzling writer of international stature, Anne Enright is one of Ireland’s singular voices. Now she deliver The Gathering, a moving, evocative portrait of a large Irish family haunted by the past. The nine surviving children of the Hegarty clan are gathering in Dublin for the wake of their wayward brother, Liam, who drowned in the sea. His sister, Veronica, collects the body and keeps the dead man company, guarding the secret she shares with him --- something that happened in their grandmother’s house in the winter of 1968. As Enright traces the line of betrayal and redemption through three generations, she shows how memories warp and secrets fester. As in all Enright’s work, her distinctive intelligence twists the world a fraction, and gives it back to us in a new and unforgettable light.”

Well, everyone in the book club agreed, it was a complete and total bust. Not one of us enjoyed one iota of this non-cohesive, fragmented, confusing, sad novel. It was hard for me to find one good thing about it.

The one piece that I liked - the wake scene, I actually enjoyed reading that to a certain extent. It was my first introduction to an Irish wake and it was very interesting. How it was held at home, how the family never leaves the body, and how it is a social gathering.

Otherwise the main character and narrator Veronica completely did not appeal to me nor did the story have any rhyme or reason. It was totally and completely fragmented. And we believe may be the point of the story which is about sexual abuse. However, it failed to make a point. But, maybe that was the point? I'm still confused.

Enough of that, I also read, Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama. I picked this novel up months ago. I knew that it discussed Obama’s family history and that it was written after his studies at Harvard. To be honest, I wanted to read to know more of what made this man tick (for obvious reasons). The synopsis:

“In this lyrical, unsentimental, and compelling memoir, the son of a black African father and a white American mother searches for a workable meaning to his life as a black American. It begins in New York, where Barack Obama learns that his father --- a figure he knows more as a myth than as a man --- has been killed in a car accident. This sudden death inspires an emotional odyssey --- first to a small town in Kansas, from which he retraces the migration of his mother’s family to Hawaii, and then to Kenya, where he meets the African side of his family, confronts the bitter truth of his father’s life, and at last reconciles his divided inheritance.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was less of a memoir and more of a story. Obama had me enthralled. It truly is his journey to realizing who he is and the introduction to “Audacity for Hope” (which I have no intent to read). But, his journey to realizing himself is beautiful, circular, eventful, and worth the read.

I don’t want to say too much for fear of giving too much away. However, his struggle was palpable and I am glad that it is resolved for him.

Ironically, both of these authors were reviewing their past to come to a conclusion on their present. The first was so negative, that it simply lost me. But, the second was very matter of fact in the situations (and as a result the events were neither good nor bad). And as a result, the story unfolded beautifully, hopeful. If Obama doesn’t become President, I like to see him write some more.

1 comment:

loribeth said...

"Dreams From My Father" has been in my to-read pile for eons, & I'm determined to get it read before the election. ; ) I was reading some convention coverage in the NY Times & Washington Post today,& there was an article about how Obama tends to write most of his own speeches. Speechwriting is part of what I do (a small part -- we have two other people whose main job is speechwriting for our executives -- I provide backup to them when they need it) -- I love hearing a well-crafted & well-delivered speech & reading about how others do it.

Anyway -- I digress! ; ) Thanks for the recommendations!