Monday, October 17, 2011

Latest reads: Room by Emma Donaghue and Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson

So. I've finally mastered reading-while-nursing (much easier on the Kindle than with a "real" book). It has improved my life greatly. I have yet to master typing-while-nursing, though, so I haven't been posting here much. The baby's asleep right now, let's hope he allows me to write about my recent reads before he wakes up.My friend Caitlin recommended Room to me, she thought that, as a new mom, I would enjoy reading this book that centers on a mother-son relationship. I adored this book. The most impressive part of it was the voice of the narrating character - a five year old boy, who has lived in a small room with his mother for his entire life. His mother is the prisoner of a man who rapes her repeatedly, fathering (only in the biological sense) her son, Jack. It was no small achievement for Donaghue to tell this story entirely in the very believable voice of such a young character. The story is told in present tense, as well. I felt like I was there, and my heart was racing at several points in the book, hoping Jack and his mother would be okay. I read this in two days. I kept looking at my baby Anton while he slept, so thankful for him. The book is a wonderful account of a mother's love, while at the same time a bit of a thriller.

Next I read Ten Thousand Saints on my Kindle, which I'd read about in Poets & Writers magazine. The characters are part of the straight-edge hardcore punk scene in the late '80s, and I've never come across a novel about this particular subculture before. I was marginally aware of this scene in high school (although that was in the 90s, I must point out), and went to a couple of shows because I had crushes on boys who were into it. So I was intrigued by the subject matter. I liked this book a lot, and thought the characters were genuine and interesting, and I found myself caring deeply for them. However, I found Henderson's writing style a bit confusing, at times. She loves similies like my cat loves smoked salmon. This book is full of them, like seeds of a pomegranate.

Okay, okay, her similies are mostly far better than mine. But there were And some of them didn't quite work for me. So then I'd find myself pondering the weird similie, and it would take me out of the story. And overall, the style was very intellectual-poetic, which didn't seem like it fit any of the characters' view of the world. Also, the perspective shifted quite often. Sometimes it seemed to shift mid-paragraph. Sometimes I wasn't sure whose head we were currently in. It was not a huge distraction, but I think it might have been better if she'd just picked one or two, or heck, even three characters through which we could view the story.

The wonderful characters and the unpredictable and intriguing story made me keep reading, though, like a straight-edge teenage boy at a free vegan buffet. Sorry, I couldn't help that one.

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