Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian

image from LibraryThing

Oh my goodness!!

That's about all I can say about this book.

Our book club is reading Midwives or Double Bind for the March book and oh my goodness!

This is the story of Laurel, a young woman brutally attacked by two men while riding bike in Vermont. She graduates from college as a social worker and begins working at BEDS a homeless shelter/low rent housing facility in Burlington, Vermont, very close to the town of her attack. An older man, Bobbie, dies and in his things is a box of photographs of famous people, houses and a blurry young woman riding a bike on a road in Vermont.

So begins Laurel's quest to figure out who Bobbie was, why he ended up homeless and why in the world he had a picture of her...

I can't say more - because it is so fragily woven it would unravel in my retelling.

Suffice it to say I would strongly recommend this one. It's a typical Bohjalian - a little hard to read - a little wordy - a little plodding at parts - but so worth the end.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

image from LibraryThing
This is the kind of book that you need to pause and reread. It's a very short book and an easy read.
 But, there is so much to it.

On the surface it's a simple travel story about a simple young Spanish man who wants to travel instead of becoming a priest. He becomes a shepherd so that he may travel around the Spanish countryside and see what the world is. He is happy.

Then he has a dream of treasure, meets a gypsy fortune teller who asks him for 1/10th of the treasure he will find by the pyramids in Egypt, and an old man in a village who tells him of the Soul of the world and the quest for his Personal Journey.

Suddenly it is not enough to simply be a shepherd, instead he feels the challenge and the call of the unknown.

So, why does this mean anything to me? It's the idea of a personal journey. Something that we feel and understand when we are children and slowly give up as we grow older. That nudge that we feel toward a certain something...and then it gets buried deeply under the pieces of our life.

What have I buried? What would it take to seek it out again. That is what this book asks me. And as the young man travels and meets others and learns to listen to the sounds of the desert and the camels and the world and as he notices the omens in his path I wonder.

What have I failed to hear and notice?
What have I been afraid to notice?
Is it too late??

There was one story in particular that brought me up short. It is a story told about an old man who is assured one of his sons' words will be known for generations. One of his sons was a warrior and the other a poet. The father is thrilled to think his poet son will be remembered. Then at his death he is taken into the future and he sees his son's words. But, they are not the words of a poet, rather they are the words of a Centurion who believed that Jesus Christ could heal his servant with out even being there. The faith and the belief of this warrior son have lived on for thousands of years.

So I want to read again. I want to read it with a pencil in my hand, because I'm pretty sure it's right in front of me.