Friday, December 26, 2008

just finished reading

Away, by Amy Bloom. My review here. Anyone else read it? Any thoughts?


Ann Victor said...

Just read your review, Moon Rat. I liked the part about people's lives touching briefly before parting, but I think I'll pass on this one.

Lisa said...

I thought it was well written and an interesting premise and story. I did feel that same lack of connection with the main character that you did. And it's true, there is no word to describe a parent who has lost a child. Not only is the child taken away, but also one's identity as a parent -- at least to those who don't know.

Gebadia Smith said...

Girl please add a feedburner email sub or follow me subscription.

Ann Victor said...

Moon Rat, I've been brooding on the point that there is no word to describe parents who lose children.

Think of Hamlet: when Hamlet is mourning his father's death (Act I sc ii), the Queen says "...Do not forever with thy vailed lids/Seek for thy noble father in the dust./Thou know'st tis common:all that lives must die..." and Claudius continues in the same vein when he says, "...But you must know your father lost a father/That father lost, lost persevere/In obsitinate condolement.../...shows a will most incorrect to heaven..."

Both these imply that, although all must die, a parent's death BEFORE the child's death is usually the natural order in which death occurs.

So perhaps there's no single word for parents who've lost a child because losing a child goes against the "natural order" of life. While the death of a child does tragically occur, theoretically speaking a child should outlive his/her parents, so when they don't it is perceived as somehow "wrong" or a distortion of life's structure.

Society can deal with a "right order" of death,(for example, by coining the term orphans for children who lose parents), but not with an unnatural order.

Sorry, I'm just rambling here, but this is just such an interesting conundrum!

NOTE FOR GEBADIA SMITH: look on your blogger dashboard, there's a way to add blogs you want to follow and as you log in to your Blogger account via the dashboard, those blogs you've chosen to follow pop up with the latest updated entry. It's an easy way to keep up with great blogs!

moonrat said...

Ann: thanks for your thoughtful comments.

Re: loss of child: I love that you have quoted from Hamlet, and it certainly makes your point. Amy Bloom says that, too. She says child loss is so terrible that there just isn't a special word for it. You put it very well to describe it as unnatural tragedy, a loss that isn't expected of everyone.

Re: your reading pile: PLEASE don't feel like you need to read every book I blog about! I blog about books because it's lonely reading alone and I like to hope other people have read and can comment. But I'll feel very guilty if I end up costing you $6000 in books.

moonrat said...

Lisa--nice to see someone else felt the same way I did!

Ann Victor said...

LOL, Moon Rat, with the current exchange rate at 1US$ = 10ZAR $6000 = SIXTY THOUSAND rand (yes, you read that correctly!) so I'd have to stop buying books waaaay before then!!:):)

Don't worry - I won't bankrupt myself any time soon :):) I'm just super-impressed with all the reading you do (in addition to all the other stuff called working, living, breathing ...)

Mary said...

I left my comment on the review page. I know books don't often get a second chance but I hope someday you come back to Away.

Mary said...

After reading your review again, I thought of a question which you may or may not want to answer. I realized I was waiting for a completion to the "in the end..." part: In the end, I'll have to pass. Would you have? If she was an unknown debut author?

moonrat said...

Mary--thanks for your comments. I know that many have LOVED this book, and it's nice to hear a counterpoint opinion.

I do think AWAY is a good book--I gave it a "good" for classification--but I think it's safe to say I didn't react to it as viscerally as you did. Which says to me that something in the book spoke to you specifically (and spoke to many others) (and didn't speak to me).

To answer your question--would I have passed? As an editor, if she had been an unknown debut writer? I think I probably would have. Which goes to show you that personal taste is an unpredictable and whimsical thing. There are so many individuals and review venues who speak very highly of this book, and it has sold a lot of copies, so in publishing terms it's a real winner, which would have made my taste off.

That said, I think it's good to have editors with a spectrum of tastes, since they publish for readers with a spectrum of tastes. I hope that if I carefully fill my fiction list with things I'm personally crazy about, they will find their way to readers with similar tastes. (I hope!!)

Mary said...

Thanks for the reply, moonie! Actually it's a perfect answer to my hypothetical question. I always forget AWAY has sold a lot of copies. It feels like one of those little books you hear about by chance and treasure all the more because no one else has read it. I love that you only want books you're personally crazy about. That's how it should be. The odd thing for me about this book was how I couldn't even get to page 15 the first time around, and had a hard time getting to the point where it hooked me the second time, which had to have been 75 at least. Normally I'd blame that on the author or my own taste and put the book down. But by the time I'd finished, I knew Bloom had to have started the story how she did for a reason and it made me all the more impressed--and jealous. I have no idea of her reasons (I'd kill to know) but the way I came to understand it was that my own awakening and connection to the story unfolded much the way Lillian's did. And if that's not superb craft, I don't know what is.

Thanks again for the (always) great insights!