Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I suppose I've been putting off talking about the next book because I'm not quite sure what to say about it. The Water Cure by Percival Everett struck me as similar in structure to Glyph, but the subject matter is much darker and angrier. It's kind of a stream-of-consciousness meditation on the development of Western thought and how it either justifies or repudiates the nature of torture as filtered through the grief-stricken mind of a romance novelist who kidnapped the man he believes responsible for the rape and murder of his young daughter. It's not an easy read, but it is a compelling one.

For some crazy reason, I then decided to follow up that bright ray of happiness with Woe To Live On by Daniel Woodrell, which brought me to the brink of tears before the first chapter ended. There's nothing like trying to hide an emotional response to a book when you're squished up against the window of a very crowded city bus. I quickly learned my lesson though, and saved this one as a home read only. It was a brutal depiction of the vigilante action between Kansas and Missouri during the Civil War as seen through the eyes of one of the young soldiers, Jake Roedel, who matures during the conflict. As always, Woodrell writes about such horrible things so beautifully and Jake's gradual awakening provides a welcome bit of hope amid the violence.

And then, instead of retreating to some YA goodness as I usually would after a one-two punch like that, I soldiered on with The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, which tells the story of a first generation Dominican-American and his family's struggle under the dictatorial reign of Trujillo. Oscar is a fat, socially awkward, sci-fi loving nerd who unfortunately doesn't have the ladies-man gene the rest of the Dominican men seem to, which causes him no end of pain and suffering. There was enough humor in there to keep things from getting too dark, and the mix of styles and languages and voices nicely reflected the multiple influences in Oscar's life.

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