Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Read this!

I write book reviews for a website (I'd post it here, but I use my real name there because I was too stupid to think ahead). I review whatever I happen to be reading at the time (which is quite an eclectic mix), and they're mostly positive reviews (b/c it's not a paid position, so if I don't like a book I don't keep reading). I usually wind up doing one a week, even though I generally read about 5 books a week.

Well, this week I've been a bit slow. I've been savoring Elizabeth Berg's < The Year Of Pleasures>. I tried to write a review for the book, but it was too gushing, I was afraid they'd think she paid me to say nice things about it. And I found I couldn't summarize it, couldn't wrap it all up neatly in a paragraph or two. So instead of censoring the way I really felt into a suitable review, I'm just going to talk about it here.

This book was amazing.

"Now, on this road trip, my mind seemed to uncrinkle, to breathe, to present to itself a cure for a disease it had not, until now, known it had."

You know a book is going to be good when you feel the need to copy a quote off the first page. And it just kept getting better. I wound up with a rainbow of Post-It flags sticking out of the book. I continued to read at a snail's pace even though the book was three days overdue (and I HATE being overdue). I began to resent the fact that I had to ever return this book - it should be Mine; I shouldn't have to de-flag it, shouldn't have to part with it at all. I stopped at the end of a chapter, at the end of a page, to better absorb the words, the truths, that had been written there.

The story - about a widow's journey through the first agonies of grief - is utterly moving. I've never been a widow. I've never even seen a love like the character in the book was lucky enough to live. But her pain, her struggles, her story, is, to the author's credit, universal.

Berg's words are like lyrics in a song - slow and beautiful, full of meaning and grace. They have their own melody, their own movement

"I reread the letter, sat back in the chair, took another long drink of coffee. And noticed a specific and breathtaking absence. At the moment, nothing hurt. What I felt was only hope, that internal sunrise. The image of John’s face came into my head, and I felt only my great luck at having had him for as long as I did. I’d learned enough about grieving to know that other ways of feeling would come back soon enough. But it seemed to me that this was the way we all lived: full to the brim with gratitude and joy one day, wrecked on the rocks the next. Finding the balance between the two was the art and the salvation. "

The strength of her writing - the flow of words, the beauty of the sentence, the truth behind what she's said.

Anyways. The Year Of Pleasures. Highly Recommended.

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