Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Book Report: Gut Wrenchers

During November and December I read a ton, but it was all crap.  Which isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy reading the books that I did, just that they were hardly worth noting.  I’ve probably forgotten most of the plotlines… romance, murder mystery, thrillers, conspiracy… nothing of note, that’s certain.


I put off reading the book club selection for this round because I knew it would be an emotionally difficult experience, but I finally got around to it after the New Year.  And then I went and read another gut-wrenching book.  Two sob stories in two weeks – I must be crazy.


The thing is, if a book can make me cry, it means it was a good book.  I’m not saying that I want to cry, of course.  In fact, I rather prefer not to.  It’s just that there are so many books with which I feel zero emotional connection, so it’s sometimes refreshing to know that there are still authors out there who can take me for a ride, keep me interested, and get me so emotionally invested that I sob at key points in the story.  Not everyone can write like that; what a gift to have.


But I have to wonder what it must be like for those authors.  Do they cry when they write those emotional scenes?  Are they like Kathleen Turner in Romancing the Stone, where she sobs as she writes the last pages of her novel and then pours herself a glass of wine and feasts with her cat?  Or are they a bit more distanced because they knew what was coming?


I kind of knew what was coming in one of the books, the book club selection, The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman: heartache.  How could it have been any other way?  I know some of my fellow book-clubbers read this blog, so I’ll spare the analysis, but I will say that the story was compelling and certainly Australia’s involvement in WWI is not something I knew much about beyond the fact that they were there.


The other book I just finished is The Dog Stars by Peter Heller.  The prose is different from any other book I have ever read, in a good way, a way that speaks to the trauma of living in post-apocalyptic America following a decimating flu epidemic.  Also heartbreaking, this story was filled with hope and a poignant reflection on the value of a dog, especially when the person you’ve become is something detestable (we all detest parts of ourselves, right?  Buster doesn’t care, he loves me regardless).  There’s also quite the message of hope and the fortitude of the human spirit and our need to seek socialization or maybe create society.


I’m glad that I read both of these books, despite the tears.  I might try to avoid the heavy stuff for awhile now, though.

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