Thursday, March 15, 2007

Barbara Kingsolver

Last week, I got into a "fiction" mood and read High Tide in Tuscon by Barbara Kingsolver. The book isn't actually fiction, but is a series of essays from her life experiences. She is one of my all time favorite fiction writers though, which is why my mood led me to her book. Reading it then led me to read another one of her books that I had my shelf, Animal Dreams. I've read it before, but it has been like 6 years, so it was fun to read again. She is such a talented writer. The book is about two sisters (one is the narrator and the other one is never really "in" the book, just talked about by the narrator sister) who were born and raised in a tiny town in Arizona. The second sister goes to Nicaragua (following the 1979 revolution) to help them rebuild/restructure and rehabilitate their cropland. The narrator sister returns to hometown to sort of re-find herself (she has been "floating" sort of, through her life without a sense of roots or direction). The book is an interesting blend of flashback (told in present tense), dreams/hallucinations, and present time, with little distinction between them--you eventually figure out as you are reading, "oh, this isn't actually happening right 'now.'"

A quote I liked from Animal Dreams--"people worry a lot more about the eternity after their deaths than the eternity that happened before they were born. But it's the same amount of infinity, rolling out in all directions from where we stand." (Of course, technically speaking the eternity before we were born isn't infinite, really, because at some actual point in history humans as we know them showed up, but it might as well be infinite as far as our individual lifespans are concerned!) The quote appeals to me, because of my obsession with meaning and what really matters in life, etc.

More another time...I have SO much more time to read than I actually have to write about what I read. I have all these thoughts while I'm reading that I'm desperate to share about. Then, time passes--another day, another book and those thoughts become lost before I get a chance to write (or, I have such a backlog of things/thoughts I want to write about, that I have to let go of the things that came before. Maybe a good life lesson?)

(added finally on 3/26) In a discussion in High Tide regarding preparations for war:

"Any talk of closing down a military base raises defensive and reverent ire, no matter how wasteful an installment it might be. And yet, public debate dickers and rages over our obligation to fund the welfare system--a contributions of about $25 from each taxpayer on average, for keeping the poorest among us alive. How can we haggle over the size of this meager life preserver, while shiploads of money for death sail by unchallenged?" So true! One more reason to reduce our income to below taxable level (federally)--taxes are one of our largest annual expenses.

Later in the book upon reflecting on Thoreau and the intensity of study he engaged in:

"What a life it must have been, to seize time for this much wonder. If only we could recover faith in a seed--and in all the other complicated marvels that can't fit in a sound bite. Then we humans might truly know the glory of knowing our place."

1 comment:

Mimi said...

I adore Barbara Kingsolver, and Animal Dreams is my favorite of her books - it's the one I return to and re-read often.