Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes

I'm ashamed to say it, but during and in the aftermath of Katrina, I ignored the coverage--all of it. I didn't watch the news, I didn't read the newspaper; in fact, I purposefully avoided it. It wasn't until a galley copy of this title (which doesn't come out until August of this year) landed on my desk, that I read ANYTHING about Katrina.
I'm ashamed about that. I truly am.
It's no defense, but the truth is that I couldn't handle it. I was shell-shocked after 9/11, and any grief that wasn't mine was just too hard to take. Sometimes we're selfish in our sadness, and I definitely was for what seems like forever. Now, years later, I guess I'm finally ready to understand. Or to try to understand. Because who can truly understand someone else's trauma, someone else's heartbreaking sadness? I couldn't even understand mine for a long time, and I still can't fully get it.
This book is, in one word, astounding. It's written for young adults, but it's one of my coveted genre-crossers, the books closest to my heart. And if ever I've read a book that so gets inside it's main character's head, so gets inside fear, grief, power, love, I've forgotten it, and I can only remember this one.
Pre-order this one. And thanks to the publicity person at Little, Brown for helping me step out of my New York-9/11 bubble. It's time for that guy to pop already.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

So I know that this book's been out awhile (okay, two years), and that it's received an enormous amount of hype (it's even soon to be a movie with Julia Roberts), but Eat, Pray, Love is truly is Something Else. Something Else meaning utterly, and eminently, readable. Perhaps it's where I'm at in my life, or my own questions about spirituality and this whole "God" idea, or both, but I read this book in one big gasp--not one big breath, but one big gasp. Like oh-my-god-I-need-to-read-every-sentence-or-I'm-going-to-miss-something-wise-and-amazing.  And it's not written in a way that thinks it's beautiful either--it's written in a way that's so natural, so flawed, even, that you know that this is someone's magnum opus--his or her Life's Work. Perhaps I'm getting too significant here, using all these capital letters and important words. But sometimes when you stumble upon a book (or when it's been pushed in front of you a dozen times, like this book was to me before I read it) that makes you gasp, you suddenly realize "Oh. So this is what I'm supposed to be reading." It's about love, it's about God and spirituality, it's about travel, it's about food, it's about depression. But what it's really about is just the fun of reading a brilliantly executed story--it's not perfect, no--but it's perfect in it's imperfection. It's perfectly Eat, Pray, Love. As Tina Fey's character on 30 Rock says, "I want to go to there." Read it.