Saturday, December 5, 2009
Inman Hijacked My Weekend. Yey!
Did you trim your tree this weekend?
My tannenbaum has been crouching naked in my living room since Thanksgiving, and I had such lovely visions of circling the tree with my family on Saturday, hot cocoa in hand, warm in the glow of the Christmas lights and the memories.
Unfortunately, it didn't happen. Yet. (I still have hope.)
But something glorious did happen, something completely selfish, though my family didn't seem to notice or mind (except at dinner time.) The something made me feel rested and satisfied and ready for Christmas: a book took over Decorating Day.
The book is Cold Mountain. Yes, the one that came out way back before Sam was even born, the book that sent Todd over the moon. He begged me to read it and promised that I'd love it so much that I'd want to name the child in my womb Ava or Inman.
I was unmoved. I have this problem that whenever books get lots of hype, I can't make myself read them, no matter how glowing the reviews. I always give in after the hoopla has died down, once nobody wants to gush about them anymore. I don't know why I'm like that.
Anyway, I noticed it on a bookshelf on Friday afternoon, and finished reading the last page around 11 pm Saturday night. The tree was still naked, the laundry piles had grown, and my family was in serious need of vitamins, but I felt completely elevated, improved, just by reading the words, by knowing the characters and their story.
Maybe I'm just basking in the afterglow, but Cold Mountain gave me all that great writing can offer: an opportunity to deepen my experience with courage and honor, hope and pride, compassion and pity and sacrifice. (William Faulkner's words, not mine. :) ) After loving the book so much, I'm not sure I want to see the movie. Did you see it? What did you think? The trailer is beautiful, but it makes the story out to be all about the Civil War, which it's really not. Though this clip has got to be the most romantic scene of all time. (Have a cold washcloth handy if you dare to watch it. It will make you swoon.)
Cold Mountain made me think of two other novels that recently moved me deeply, that also depict broken people trying to survive, to make the best of life that they can, to find beauty and truth and love. You probably read them long ago but I'll share them just the same, along with a few non fiction books I've enjoyed this year. Won't you tell me your latest faves? Now that I'm all rested, I'm ready to go shopping. Books make the perfect gift!
First, the two novels:
You must read this beautiful book. It's set in Crosby, Maine, and the thirteen short stories are linked together through the character of Olive Kitteridge. If I didn't know she was a fictional character, I'd swear she must be a distant cousin to grumpy Madame Mallet, from the pages of my French life. I've already read this book twice and have started on a third time. Hopefully I can hold off until after Christmas, or I may never get my cards sent out!
This is a horrifying, amazing book. It will stun and disgust you, but I don't know that I've ever any depiction more beautiful of the love a father has for his son.
So those are my three favorite works of fiction I've read this year.
But there are works of non fiction that I've loved as well, all memoir. (Surprise, surprise. My favorite genre.)
When Timothy Tyson was ten years old, a young black man was murdered in Timothy's hometown of Oxford, North Carolina. This is the story of his quest to understand what happened. I'll never be able to forget this book, nor would I want to.
I found this book in my church library, took it home and promptly fell in love with it. It's #1 on my Christmas list. (Listening, Santa?) It's all about finding the sacred in everyday life, my favorite topic in the whole wide world.
I finished this book a few weeks ago, one woman's collection of stories of grace, discovered all over the world.
And lastly, this sweet one.
The cover and title are PERFECT! It's the memoir of a Southern Baptist preacher's kid, and it's hilarious and touching and I loved every minute.
Won't you share your favorite books of the year with me?
Have a wonder-full Monday, y'all!
PS. If you've got a teen girl on your list or just enjoy young adult fiction, you've got to look at the Miracle Girl series. I LOVED Anne and May's chic lit books, so I knew they'd be good. I've only read the first one so far, but I found it smart, witty, and true to life. (And having teens in my house, I should know.) Plus they're friends of mine and lovely people. Go Anne and May!
And go Cold Mountain! Better late than never!