Monthly Archives: January 2013

Flight Behavior – Barbara Kingsolver

Flight Behaviour - Barbara Kingsolver

Flight Behaviour – Barbara Kingsolver

I have read quite a few of Ms Kingsolver’s books. I particularly liked The Poisonwood Bible. This was a Christmas present – I might have suggested it – here is the blurb …

Flight Behavior transfixes from its opening scene, when a young woman’s narrow experience of life is thrown wide with the force of a raging fire. In the lyrical language of her native Appalachia, Barbara Kingsolver bares the rich, tarnished humanity of her novel’s inhabitants and unearths the modern complexities of rural existence. Characters and reader alike are quickly carried beyond familiar territory here, into the unsettled ground of science, faith, and everyday truces between reason and conviction.

Dellarobia Turnbow is a restless farm wife who gave up her own plans when she accidentally became pregnant at seventeen. Now, after a decade of domestic disharmony on a failing farm, she has settled for permanent disappointment but seeks momentary escape through an obsessive flirtation with a younger man. As she hikes up a mountain road behind her house to a secret tryst, but instead encounters a shocking sight: a silent, forested valley filled with what looks like a lake of fire. She can only understand it as a cautionary miracle, but it sparks a raft of other explanations from scientists, religious leaders and the media. The bewildering emergency draws rural farmers into unexpected acquaintance with urbane journalists, opportunists, sightseers, and a striking biologist with his own stake in the outcome. As the community lines up to judge the woman and her miracle, Dellarobia confronts her family, her church, her town and a larger world, in a flight toward truth that could undo all she has ever believed.

Flight Behavior takes on one of the most contentious subjects of our time: climate change. With a deft and versatile empathy she dissects the motives that drive denial and belief in a precarious world.

First, how brave to write a novel with a major theme of global warming (or global weirding as one of the characters says). The characters are well-written, but unsympathetic – this is small town America and not the heart warming uplifting romantic view of it. Times are incredibly tough – Dellarobia has $50 to produce Christmas (all of Christmas). The educational system seems to have failed her completely – she seems to have no science of mathematical knowledge.  The plight of the Monarchs was beautifully portrayed and there was hope in the end that they might survive. Dellarobia would also survive and I suspect thrive, but I worry about Cub (and all of the Cubs) his life was hard and he didn’t seem to expect or hope of plan for anything else. He hand his dad, Bear, would have logged the forest for a quick return with no thought to the future and I think that is the fundamental problem facing conservationists. Those trees are their only asset. They can barely afford to feed and clothe their families.

I enjoyed reading this novel and it made me think about climate change. I thought about all of the cheap plastic stuff that is floating around the world. How we all (in the western world)  have too much stuff. Having said that I’m not sure what the solution is.

More Reviews …

http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/books/2012/11/24/review-flight-behavior-barbara-kingsolver/OLAvzkVXIESNZ6WEa7MUrM/story.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/19/books/barbara-kingsolvers-flight-behavior.html?_r=0

 

 

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The Hare with the Amber Eyes – Edmund De Waal

The Hare with the Amber Eyes

The Hare with the Amber Eyes

This was recommended to me a while ago and I wasn’t interested, but then it was selected by my book club and I am glad it was I really enjoyed it.

I think what gave me the most enjoyment was Mr De Waal’s writing style – he has a lovely personal anecdotal style.

264 wood and ivory carvings, none of them larger than a matchbox: potter Edmund de Waal was entranced when he first encountered the collection in the Tokyo apartment of his great uncle Iggie. Later, when Edmund inherited the ‘netsuke’, they unlocked a story far larger than he could ever have imagined… The Ephrussis came from Odessa, and at one time were the largest grain exporters in the world; in the 1870s, Charles Ephrussi was part of a wealthy new generation settling in Paris. Charles’s passion was collecting; the netsuke, bought when Japanese objets were all the rage in the salons, were sent as a wedding present to his banker cousin in Vienna. Later, three children – including a young Ignace – would play with the netsuke as history reverberated around them. The Anschluss and Second World War swept the Ephrussis to the brink of oblivion. Almost all that remained of their vast empire was the netsuke collection, dramatically saved by a loyal maid when their huge Viennese palace was occupied. In this stunningly original memoir, Edmund de Waal travels the world to stand in the great buildings his forebears once inhabited. He traces the network of a remarkable family against the backdrop of a tumultuous century and tells the story of a unique collection.

This is a fascinating story spanning interesting historical times – Paris in the 1870s (Renoir and Degas…), Vienna during WW1 and WW2 and finally Japan. I was intrigued by the craftsmanship involved in making the netsuke and would have liked more on that (although  I might be along in finding the slow, detailed work interesting). I enjoyed the story being told through a group of objects – something tangible that remained after everything else was gone (how Anna saved them and even the fact that she wanted to save them is extraordinary).

More reviews …

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/jun/06/book-review-de-waal-memoir-japanese-netsuke

http://laurasmusings.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/review-the-hare-with-amber-eyes-by-edmund-de-waal/

 

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Filed under Memoir, Recommended