Thursday, March 17, 2011


So, while you fools have been sittin' on your biscuit, never havin' to risk it, I've read two (2) (TWO!) more books. And changed dozens of diapers, and wiped hundreds of noses, and made thousands of snacks, and read millions of baby books, and said "Share, please!" billions of times.

Okay, my numbers got a little extravagant there at the end, but I really did read two books. But, I'm betting I'll only get to tell you about one of them in this post though, one: because I have a short attention span, and two: because of all the aforementioned diapers, noses, etc. Also, three: because I like to stretch these things out and create all this WILD suspense so you can't HELP but come back! Ack!

Book Eight: The Gravedigger's Daughter, by Joyce Carol Oates
David went to a writing conference in February and bought me this book and then got it AUTOGRAPHED by Joyce Carol Oates! This made me feel very special and fancy.

Special and fancy, until, you know, I got peanut butter and apple juice on the book while reading it.

CLEARLY, I can't be trusted to take care of nice things. Or fancy things, or special things. Please, don't give me these kinds of things. Or, really, any things that are supposed to be kept clean. It's too much for me.

Right, right, books. Okay. I've enjoyed Oates' writing very much in the past, Blonde is my favorite of hers,  and We Were the Mulvaneys is a close second.  But, her books can be a bit... heavy? bleak? brutally realistic? And I'm a bit of a wimp sometimes. So, I put the book a few down on my list, in order to emotionally brace myself. This was a good idea. The first half of the book is heartbreaking. But, Oates made it up to me in the second half.

LIKE: The protagonist. The heroine in this book is Rebecca, and she is a masterfully crafted character. I would love to be able to say more about her, but I don't even know how to describe it. So I won't. But you totally want to read this book and get to know her.
I also really, really, REALLY liked the ending. I don't want to give anything away, but the book ends with a series of letters between Rebecca and another character and it somehow manages to bring everything full circle without being too 'neat' of an ending. And, it was... well... it was beautiful. A beautiful character, a beautiful story, a beautiful novel. Sigh. Oates is a lady-writer-genius.

NO LIKE: The first half of the book was  a little rough.  Not like, rough writing, but rough for me to read.
Something happened to me after I had a baby, guys. And I'm not talking about slightly stretched out tummy skin or the ability to fall asleep anytime, anywhere.
It's this: when I read (or watch, or hear) about children, mothers, or the maternal relationship, I am unable to distance myself emotionally. No, you know what, not even distance, I can't even SEPARATE myself. It just sucks me in.  In fact, perfect example, last year I started reading Loving Frank by Nancy Horan, and in it, the mother leaves her children to go find herself in Europe with her lover, and doesn't come back for several years. I STOPPED READING the book, because I was so mad at her. I still haven't finished the book, because I'm STILL MAD.
So, anyway, call me if you have a diagnosis, but basically, the first half of The Gravedigger's Daughter was hard to push through for similar reasons, but clearly, I'm glad I did. Totally worth it.

Rebecca vowed: she would not make mistakes with her son at this time in his life. So young, before he began school. When a child is at the mercy of his parents almost exclusively. That was why Rebecca looked up words in the dictionary. And she had high school textbooks, too. To get things right. To get those things right that you could, amidst so much that you could not.

Always Katy spoke with an impulsiveness of one for whom there is no hesitation between a wish and its immediate expression.

"Or even, maybe," Zack said excitedly, "the different ways of human speech are crude and clumsy and are actually pointing toward the same thing, but different languages make them confused. Like, 'God' is behind the religions, like the sun you can't look at directly, you'd go blind, except if there was no sun, see, then you would really be blind, because you couldn't see a damned thing. Maybe it's like that?"

Secrets! In the tight little bundle inside her rib cage in the place where her heart had been. So many secrets, sometimes she couldn't get her breath.

I'll tell you about book nine tomorrow. You know, once you've basically DIED of suspense.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Rachel, I too have become so emotional when anything has to do with children or babies and mothers that I can't separate myself at all. I would guess the official diagnosis is just called "being a mom". Its like my eyes have been opened to a love I could never imagine and now that I know about it, I'll never be the same.