Thursday, January 06, 2005

Name All the Animals by Alison Smith was gorgeous. It's a memoir of the author's three years after her older brother died and how she and her family dealt with that loss. But it's about more than that - it's about growing up in a deeply religious community and attending a Catholic private school when you've lost your faith and about Alison discovering her sexuality and falling in love for the first time and about how different people grieve. It's a tribute to her brother who was loved by everyone and a reclamation of her life which she felt wasn't worth living after he died. She was only 15 when Roy died in a horrible traffic accident and because they were very close (so close that her mother called them by a combined name "Alroy") she lost her belief in God, or rather, she says it was more like God left her and took Roy with him. The writing is lovely, emotional and evocative without being difficult or overly sentimental:

"We bumped around the house for a good six months, stunned, hungry, longing, waiting for the runners, unable to find the door back to our lives. I returned to school, grew two inches and lost ten pounds. Mother climbed Mount Marcy - twice. The new Saint Jude joined us at the kitchen table. But nothing really changed. Mary Elizabeth still mooned over Jimmy-the-Lead-Guitar-Player. I still sneaked out the back door every night and visited the fort. My parents said their daily prayers, and every Sunday we all dressed up and went to Mass, and after a while, even God's long silence did not seem that strange. We remained removed, one foot in this world, one foot in the next with Roy.
I checked his bed every morning. Just in case."

The book comes to a natural close when she is 18 and while I would like to know what happened to her after that, I didn't feel like it was incomplete. I'm looking forward to her second book and am going to try and find the pieces she wrote for McSweeney's.

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?