Skip to main content

Reading in 2013: Away & Ru

I forgot that I am blogging through this year's reads (unofficially, although I guess this makes it official) and have finished TWO books in the past week.

Away by Jane Urquhart was one of the CBC's Canada Reads finalists. While it didn't win, it is the only one of the 5 books I've read (and am likely to read). I quite enjoyed the way she weaves a generational family story with the history of both Ireland and Canada, and then sprinkles in some poetry and magic. I love the lyricism of Urquhart's writing, and found myself easily drawn into the world she portrays. And this is the most magic realism I've seen from a Canadian author (anyone know of other magic realist Canadian lit?). I have to admit, though, that I was disappointed on two counts.

First, I was bothered by the lack of explanation for why the main character is leaving her lakefront home (it is a distinct possibility that she mentions this and I managed to miss it). But without that piece of information, I kept coming up slightly confused. And secondly, it felt to me that she just got tired of storytelling by the end, and the third generation/narrator's life was summed up far too simply. I wanted the same level of story that I got for her grandmother & great-grandmother. I enjoyed it very much. I just wanted there to be a bit more...


Ru by Kim Thuy (translated by Sheila Fischmann) is a simple vignette-style story of a woman who started her life in Vietnam, left as a refugee, and grew up in Quebec. It is elegant and short and rich. I wanted there to be more, but the bareness of the story was also a strength. As I read, I kept thinking about the structure (in a good way) - why she chose this brief style, and whether the stories excluded (or merely hinted at) "matter." Altogether, I loved this book.

Both novels were compelling in their representation of historic national tragedy, the struggle of displacement and immigration, and family dynamics. I am reminded that I am blessed and privileged to live where and when I do - and that this does not entitle me to naivety about the historic or present struggles of many women around the world. In fact, I'd say my access to stories like these reminds me of my obligation to steward that freedom well.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

What About Travis!?

I just watched Hope Floats, the second movie in my I-really-need-to-vegetate night. Now that we have more than three channels, there are so many quality programs on TV! Like movies in the middle of the week. I enjoyed many of the lines in this movie, including:

"I went home and told my mama you had a seizure in my mouth."
(referring to her first french-kissing experience)

"Dancing's just a conversation between two people. Talk to me."
(the conversation in our living room then went,
Girl 1: Only Harry Connick Jr. could say that line without it being incredibly cheezy.
Boy: Without it being cheezy? That's all I heard. Cheez, cheez, cheez.
Girl 2: Yeah, but it was sexy, sexy cheez...sigh.)
"Better do what she says, Travis. Grandma stuffs little dogs."

Bernice: At home we had a pet skunk. Mama used to call it Justin Matisse. Do you think that's just a coincidence? All day long she would scream, "You stink Justin Matisse!" Then one day she just…

I Like to Keep My Issues Drawn

It's Sunday night and I am multi-tasking. Paid some bills, catching up on free musical downloads from the past month, thinking about the mix-tape I need to make and planning my last assignment for writing class.

Shortly, I will abandon the laptop to write my first draft by hand. But until then, I am thinking about music.

This song played for me earlier this afternoon, as I attempted to nap. I woke up somewhere between 5 and 5:30 this morning, then lay in bed until 8 o'clock flipping sides and thinking about every part of my life that exists. It wasn't stressful, but it wasn't quite restful either...This past month, I have spent a lot of time rebuffing lies and refusing to believe that the inside of my heart and mind can never change. I feel like Florence + The Machine's song "Shake it Out" captures many of these feelings & thoughts.

(addendum: is the line "I like to keep my issues strong or drawn?" Lyrics sites have it as "strong," …

Simone Weil: On "Forms of the Implicit Love of God"

Simone Weil time again! One of the essays in Waiting for God is entitled "Forms of the Implicit Love of God." Her main argument is that before a soul has "direct contact" with God, there are three types of love that are implicitly the love of God, though they seem to have a different explicit object. That is, in loving X, you are really loving Y. (in this case, Y = God). As for the X of the equation, she lists:

Love of neighbor Love of the beauty of the world Love of religious practices and a special sidebar to Friendship
“Each has the virtue of a sacrament,” she writes. Each of these loves is something to be respected, honoured, and understood both symbolically and concretely. On each page of this essay, I found myself underlining profound, challenging, and thought-provoking words. There's so much to consider that I've gone back several times, mulling it over and wondering how my life would look if I truly believed even half of these things...

Here are a few …